Charles Stanley – Transformed Into Jesus’ Image

 

Ephesians 5:1-21

As Christians, we are called to a high moral standard, yet we may feel as if we’re failing more than succeeding. Perhaps our language isn’t as pure as we know it should be, or we haven’t overcome some of our bad habits. It’s easy to become discouraged if we don’t understand what is hindering our progress.

Transformation begins in the mind, because the way we reason affects how we act. We can’t expect to progress in holiness if we’re undiscerning about what to allow into our thoughts. Paul admonishes us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by renewing the mind (Rom. 12:2). We must make an intentional effort to fill our mind with the truths of God’s Word to ensure that we are counteracting the world’s messages.

The influence of others is another avenue by which we can be helped or hindered in our pursuit of holiness. If we associate with people who don’t share our standards, we could be tempted to compromise. Mature believers, on the other hand, can detect obstacles hindering our growth and point out adjustments we need to make. I was greatly impacted by the biographies of godly men like Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, and Dwight L. Moody. As I read, I would see qualities in their lives that I wanted in my own. These traits formed the basis for many of my prayers.

What kinds of thoughts fill your mind? Are you being influenced by friends, television, or social media more than you are by the Word of God? As the Holy Spirit helps you replace wrong thoughts with godly ones, your behavior will also be transformed.

Bible in One Year: Luke 23-24

 

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Our Daily Bread — Agreeing to Disagree

 

Read: Romans 14:1–13 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 20–21; 2 Timothy 4

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace. Romans 14:19

I remember hearing my dad talk about how difficult it was to walk away from unending arguments over differing interpretations of the Bible. By contrast he recalled how good it was when both sides agreed to disagree.

But is it really possible to set aside irreconcilable differences when so much seems to be at stake? That’s one of the questions the apostle Paul answers in his New Testament letter to the Romans. Writing to readers caught in social, political, and religious conflict, he suggests ways of finding common ground even under the most polarized conditions (14:5–6).

According to Paul, the way to agree to disagree is to recall that each of us will answer to the Lord not only for our opinions but also for how we treat one another in our differences (v. 10).

Conditions of conflict can actually become occasions to remember that there are some things more important than our own ideas—even more than our interpretations of the Bible. All of us will answer for whether we have loved one another, and even our enemies, as Christ loved us.

Now that I think of it, I remember that my dad used to talk about how good it is not just to agree to disagree but to do so with mutual love and respect.

Father, please enable us to be patient and kind with those who don’t agree with us about anything or everything.

We can agree to disagree—in love. 

By Mart DeHaan

 

 

http://www.odb.org

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Dance of Grace

I have always been mesmerized by ballet dancers. I remember our family’s annual visit to McCormick Place in Chicago to see the Nutcracker. The fluid movement, the spinning on toes, arms floating around as if in flight, their movement told the story. The dancers made the most difficult technical movements seem natural and easy. I remember one friend speaking of the dancers’ expertise as being filled with grace. These artists had taken complicated and physically demanding choreography and infused it with simple elegance and refinement.

The concept of grace has a long history within the Christian tradition. In theological terms, grace is described as God’s unmerited favor toward human beings and our not getting what we deserve—both in terms of our own failing, and in terms of the abundance of God’s blessing towards us. Grace is also understood as a way of life towards others. Since God gives grace freely, humans ought to extend grace towards one another. Like the experienced dancer, the grace extended toward others should be characterized with an elegance and refinement.

Easier said than done. For one like me, who is by nature clumsy and lacking in balance, extending grace to another can often feel like the most excruciating physical practice. What often results is not a refined and elegant performance, but the proverbial dancer with two left feet. So how does one, like the dancers in the Bolshoi Ballet, live in ways that are full of grace?

I asked this question to a friend as we conversed about living in ways that were permeated with graciousness. He shared a story with me about his children’s karate instructor. The instructor was a black-belt in karate and very skilled in his movements and technique. Like the dancers I saw in the Nutcracker, my friend marveled at both the fluidity and gracefulness of the instructor’s movements as he demonstrated karate. Afterwards, my friend asked the instructor if he always moved with such grace and ease—was that something that just came naturally and that one had to possess inherently in order to succeed at karate? The instructor laughed and took him into his office. He took out a video tape. The tape was recorded when the instructor was a student. My friend was amazed by what he saw: jerky, clumsy kicks and punches, falling down as he missed his target, defeat against one opponent after another. Was it really the same person he saw before him? Indeed, it was. So what was the instructor’s secret?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Dance of Grace

Joyce Meyer – Love Does Something

 

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share…. — 1 Timothy 6:18 (NKJV)

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Our ministry has taken various people on mission trips to minister to desperately needy people, but they don’t all respond the same way. Everyone feels compassion, but some individuals become quite determined to find ways to make a difference.

Indifference makes an excuse, but love finds a way. Everyone can do something!

I remember a woman who decided she had to help in some way. For a while she couldn’t figure out what to do because she had no extra money to contribute and she couldn’t go live on the mission field.

But as she continued to pray about the situation, God encouraged her to look at what she had, not at what she did not have. She realized she was very good at baking cakes, pies and cookies.

So, she asked her pastor if she could bake during the week, and offer her baked goods for sale on Sundays after church as long as the money went to missions. This became a way for her and other church members to be involved in missions, and it kept her active doing something to help someone else.

Another woman is a massage therapist, and she organized a special spa day and donated all the proceeds to help poor people. She raised one—thousand dollars for missions and also testified that the day of giving was life changing for her, those who worked with her, and those who attended.

We all need to be loved, but I believe our personal joy is strongly connected to loving others. Something beautiful happens in our hearts when we give.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to not only feel compassion, but to find creative ways to express my love for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – When We Commit

 

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him to help you do it and He will” (Psalm 37:5).

Janet remained after the student meeting for counsel.

“How can I commit everything I do to the Lord?” she inquired. “What is involved in a total commitment?”

I explained that mere words can be superficial and shallow, and even insulting to God. It is the commitment of our intellects, our emotions and our wills to do the will of God in every situation with the faith that we can, as promised, trust Him to help us do whatever He calls us to do.

Sometimes I wonder if we really know the meaning of the word commitment. Paraphrasing an anonymous source:

We sing “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and are content with five or ten minutes a day. We sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and wait to be drafted into His service. We sing “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and don’t use the one we have.

We sing “I Love to Tell the Story” but never witness to the love of Christ personally. We sing “We’re Marching to Zion” but fail to march to worship or Sunday school. We sing “Cast Thy Burden on the Lord” and worry ourselves into a nervous breakdown.

We sing “The Whole Wide World for Jesus” and never invite our next-door neighbor to consider the claims of Christ. We sing “O Day of Rest and Gladness” and wear ourselves out traveling or cutting grass or playing golf on Sunday. We sing “Throw Out the Lifeline” and content ourselves with throwing out a fishing line.

Consistency is a wonderful word for the believer in Christ. Add to that the word commitment and you have a rare combination of supernatural enablements that result in a triumphant, fruitful life.

Bible Reading:Proverbs 3:5-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will commit everything I do to the Lord and trust Him to help me do what He calls me to do. Since He has called me to be His witness, I will trust Him to enable me to share His love and forgiveness through Christ with someone else today.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Don’t Give Up on God!

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Much of life is spent fixing lunches; turning in assignments; changing diapers; and paying bills.  Routine…regular…more struggle than strut.  You thought marriage was going to be a lifelong date?  You thought having kids was going to be like baby-sitting?  You thought the company who hired you wanted to hear all the ideas you had in college? Then you learned otherwise.

The honeymoon ended.  Oh, there are moments of glamour, days of celebration.  We have our share of feasts, but we also have our share of baloney sandwiches.  And to have the first we must endure the second. I’ve learned that God comes. And, in the right way, he appears.  So don’t bail out.  Don’t give up.  He is too wise to forget you and too loving to hurt you.  When you can’t see him, trust him.  He is praying a prayer for you that he himself will answer.

Read more A Gentle Thunder

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Holocaust survivor escaped death in Pittsburgh  

Judah Samet was rescued from Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp seventy years ago. He survived Saturday’s attack on his synagogue in Pittsburgh because he was running late.

Born in Hungary, Samet was six years old when his family of six was put on a train to Auschwitz. The route was blocked, so their train was eventually redirected to Bergen-Belsen.

An estimated fifty thousand people died in this camp, including Anne Frank. Samet’s family was eventually put aboard a train intended for another concentration camp, but they were liberated by American troops before reaching their destination.

Samet eventually made his way to Pittsburgh, where he owns a jewelry shop. Last Saturday, he was talking to his housekeeper and was four minutes late to Shabbat services. He entered the parking lot and was pulling into a handicapped spot when gunfire erupted. He was in the line of fire but wasn’t hit.

Two beloved brothers will be buried together

David and Cecil Rosenthal were not as fortunate.

The brothers had Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that often results in mild to moderate intellectual challenges. The two were developmentally disabled and lived together.

Cecil loved to greet people at the door of the synagogue before services. A friend called his laugh “infectious.” He added that “David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit.” They were two of eleven killed at their synagogue last Saturday. Their funerals are today.

The Pittsburgh shooting is unfortunately not the only tragedy in today’s news.

A student was shot dead yesterday at Butler High School in Matthews, North Carolina. Indonesian officials are searching for clues after a jetliner crashed into the Java Sea yesterday, likely killing all 189 passengers and crew. Seven people were shot and wounded early yesterday morning during a Halloween party at a Southern California nightclub.

But I want to focus this morning on the synagogue shooting for three important reasons.

One: We must fight the rise of anti-Semitism.

I returned Saturday from spending three weeks in Israel. One of the topics I discussed with my Israeli friends was the global threat of anti-Semitism.

More than a third of the global Jewish population was murdered in the Holocaust. Three wars and multiple armed conflicts since the 1948 founding of Israel have made security issues a daily recurrence for them.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Holocaust survivor escaped death in Pittsburgh