Charles Stanley – The Witness of God

 

Romans 1:16-23

No one is born an atheist or agnostic, “because that which is known about God is evident within them” (Rom. 1:19). The Father has given every person an inborn witness of His existence, but this isn’t the only evidence given to mankind. Creation itself testifies of God’s invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature (Rom. 1:20). However, it’s possible to ignore or reject both the internal and external witnesses of God. When that happens, the mind becomes progressively darker until it can no longer see the light of truth.

On hearing this, many believers react with concern for the multitudes who have never heard the gospel. They wonder, How can people be saved if the only evidence they experience of the one true God is the natural world and an inborn sense of His reality, which their culture may try to deny or manipulate? Yet our text today says there is no excuse for anyone who rejects both these witnesses (Rom. 1:20).

One thing we must remember is that God will be just, and we cannot claim to be more righteous, compassionate, and merciful than He. We can trust that He will judge every person rightly (Deut. 32:3-4). All people will be evaluated according to the truth they received, the opportunities they had, and what they did with both: Did they believe or reject what God revealed?

One thing we can know for certain is our part in the divine plan for unbelievers—Scripture is clear that we’re to be witnesses to as many as possible. You have the opportunity to share the gospel with people in your sphere of influence. That is God’s plan for the unreached.

Bible in One Year: Amos 1-4

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Unexpected Ways

 

Read: 1 Kings 19:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 7–9; 2 Corinthians 13

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9

In 1986, five-year-old Levan Merritt fell twenty feet into the gorilla enclosure of England’s Jersey zoo. As parents and onlookers cried out for help, a full-grown male silverback, named Jambo, placed himself between the motionless boy and several other gorillas. Then he began to gently stroke the child’s back. When Levan began to cry, Jambo led the other gorillas into their own enclosure as zoo-keepers and an ambulance driver came to the rescue. More than thirty years later Levan still talks about Jambo the gentle giant—his guardian angel who had acted in a shockingly unexpected way, changing his perception of gorillas forever.

Elijah may have expected God to act in certain ways, but the God of gods used a rock-shattering wind, a powerful earthquake, and raging fire to show His prophet how not to think of Him. Then He used a gentle whisper to show His heart and to express His presence (1 Kings 19:11–12).

Elijah had seen God’s power before (18:38–39). But he didn’t fully understand the One who wants to be known as more than the greatest and most fearsome of gods (19:10, 14).

Eventually, that quiet whisper found fullness of meaning in the powerful gentleness of Jesus, who said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Then He quietly allowed Himself to be nailed to a tree—an unexpected, compassionate act by the great God who loves us.

Father in heaven, please help us to find courage in Your whisper—and in the ways of Your Son. Have mercy on us for not seeing beyond Your power to a love we’ve barely begun to know.

God won’t shout if we only need a whisper.

By Mart DeHaan

 

http://www.odb.org

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Theology of Sleep

For some people, the fear of sleep accompanies the fear of death. For some, the fear of not being awake is akin to the fear of not being. Public Radio International personality Ira Glass spent a program discussing his own fear of sleep, along with others who find something worrisome in the altered, vulnerable state of slumber: “I’d lie awake at night scared to go to sleep,” says Glass of himself as a child. “‘Cause sleep seemed no different than death, you know? You were gone. Not moving, not talking, not thinking. Not aware. Not aware. What could be more frightening? What could be bigger?”(1)

Others describe a similar sense of foreboding in the still of night that is irrationally paralyzing for them: a seven year-old trains himself to resist sleep, a young student describes her extensive intake of caffeine and denial. But one man, speaking bluntly of the fear of death in the middle of the night, attests to the altogether rational quality of his fear. “It’s not an irrational fear… You understand that you’re a mortal; your life is going to be over at some point. You’re fighting the worst enemy in the world as you lie there in bed….you’re trying to fight death and there’s no way you can win.”(2)

Glass closes the program with an excerpt of Philip Larkin’s “Aubade,” a poem about waking at 4 a.m. and staring around the bedroom, and seeing “what’s really always there:/ Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,/ Making all thought impossible but how/ And where and when I shall myself die.” Larkin, who died a bleak philosopher at 63, continues:

This is a special way of being afraid

No trick dispels. Religion used to try,

That vast moth-eaten musical brocade

Created to pretend we never die,

And specious stuff that says no rational being

Can fear a thing it cannot feel, not seeing

that this is what we fear – no sight, no sound,

No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,

Nothing to love or link with,

The anaesthetic from which none come round.

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Joyce Meyer – Faith Has No Expiration Date

 

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold…. — 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Faith is the evidence of the things that we do not see and the proof of their reality (see Hebrews 11:1). Faith is what we have while we are waiting for God to answer our prayer and provide what we need. But what if God takes a long, long time to answer? That is when waiting can become difficult, and that is also when our faith is tested.

I am currently waiting on at least seven things I have prayed about, and they are all things I have been waiting on for a long time, some of them for years. As I was feeling a little disappointed yesterday about having no answers yet, I was reminded that faith has no expiration date, and if it does, then it is not faith that can endure testing.

Faith means that we not only ask God for something, but also that we must trust Him to be the head of the “ways and means committee”! He chooses the way to answer us and the timing to do so. In the meantime, we get to be patient, or we can at least learn to be patient! I am still learning, and perhaps you are also.

Let me encourage you today to know that although God probably won’t show up in your timing, He promises not to be late. Don’t just trust God for something, but trust Him all the way through the process it takes to get it. Don’t let your faith expire!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You that I have faith while I am waiting for a breakthrough in my situation. Help me remain faithful, even as You are faithful! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – If Two Agree 

 

“I also tell you this – if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, My Father in heaven will do it for you” (Matthew 18:19).

Some of the richest experiences of my life have occurred in the practice of meeting with one or two individuals to pray specifically for definite things. The Scripture promises that one person can defeat 1000 but two can defeat 10,000 (Deuteronomy 32:30).

I believe that same principle holds in prayer. When individuals pray together, agreeing concerning a certain matter – assuming, of course, that they are praying according to the Word and will of God – the mighty sources of deity are released in their behalf.

Some interpret this verse to refer to church discipline, rejecting the claim that I am making in principle that there is great power, supernatural power, released when God’s children unite together in prayer. We have not because we ask not (James 4:2). Whatsoever we shall ask in prayer, believing, we shall receive (Matthew 21:22). If we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears and answers us (1 John 5:14). If we ask anything in Christ’s name, He will do it (John 14:14).

When two or more individuals unite and together claim these promises concerning a certain matter whatever it may be, they should expect answers. That is in accordance with God’s promise and God does not lie.

Bible Reading:Matthew 18:15-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek opportunities to unite with others to pray specifically concerning the needs of individual believers or my church or missions around the world, and we will expect answers in accordance with God’s promise.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Fruit of the Spirit

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The Bible says, “If God were to withdraw his Spirit, all life would disappear and mankind would return again to dust” (Job 34:14-15). And Ephesians 1:13 says that the Holy Spirit enters the believer upon confession of faith. From that point forward the Christian has access to the very power and personality of God.  They begin to think the way God thinks, love the way God loves, and see the way God sees. And this power includes the gifts of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

As our relationship with God is secured and unmarred by rebellion, sin, or stubborn behavior, we can expect a harvest of fruit!  We need not force it, but we can expect it.  It simply falls to us to stay connected.  And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – What Harvard study says about kids raised in church

A new Harvard study investigated the health and mental health of children and teenagers who were raised with religious or spiritual practices. What they found was fascinating.

Those who attended religious services at least once a week as children or teens were about 18 percent more likely to report being happier in their twenties than those who never attended services. They were almost 30 percent more likely to do volunteer work and 33 percent less likely to use drugs in their twenties.

In addition, people who prayed and meditated individually on a daily basis had more life satisfaction, were better able to process emotions, and were more forgiving. They were less likely to have sex at an earlier age and to have a sexually transmitted disease.

The Forbes article reporting on the study concludes: “Some of the fundamental habits that humans have been doing for eons (praying, meditating) might actually have a lot more value than we tend to think.”

By God’s design, a divine-human partnership is essential to human flourishing. Consider an example.

“A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

The future of Israel was in jeopardy. A massive Midianite army numbering 135,000 troops (Judges 8:10) was ready to annihilate the Jewish forces. Gideon mustered 32,000 soldiers, but the Lord led him to dismiss all but three hundred (Judges 7:2-8). God’s purpose was to show the Israelites that their deliverance came from the Lord and not from their hand.

Armies in the ancient world conveyed signals through “trumpets” (usually rams’ horns). They often marched at night to the light of torches. Gideon’s original army had three hundred such trumpets and torches. The torches were carried inside clay jars so as not to alert the enemy, then the jars were broken when the assault was to begin. The trumpets were used to convey orders to the troops.

Continue reading Denison Forum – What Harvard study says about kids raised in church