Charles Stanley – Purity and Persecution

 

1 Peter 4:1-5

What is the connection between suffering and purity for the Christian? These are not terms we usually consider together, but Peter says those who suffer physically cease from sin and no longer live for human lusts. Instead, they live for the will of God. That is not to say we’ll reach a level of sinless perfection but, rather, the power of sin in our lives will be broken.

According to today’s passage, we are engaged in a battle, and Peter says to arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had in His suffering. Just as He willingly submitted to the Father’s will and went to the cross, so we must accept that suffering is likewise part of God’s will for our life. It’s one of the ways He purifies us and breaks any attachment to our previous sinful desires.

As believers, we are called to live differently from the world around us. This doesn’t mean we’re to be deliberately antagonistic, but our lifestyle should be an example of purity. Others may find this offensive because it exposes their sin, and then they may respond by maligning us in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

Although we want the world to be attracted to Christ by our transformed lives, in reality we may make others uncomfortable or perhaps even antagonistic. This is why so many Christians around the world are being persecuted and even killed for their faith. But every time the church has faced persecution, it has also been purified and made stronger. God never intends for suffering to defeat us. Rather, His purpose is for it to make us holy and effective witnesses for Christ.

Bible in One Year: John 1-3

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hope in the Darkness

 

Read: Jeremiah 31:16–26 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 22–23; Titus 1

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25

According to legend, Qu Yuan was a wise and patriotic Chinese government official who lived during the time known as the Warring States period (475–246 bc). It has been said that he tried repeatedly to warn his king about an impending threat that would destroy the country, but the king rejected his advice. Eventually, Qu Yuan was exiled. When he learned about the fall of his beloved country to the foe he had warned about, he ended his life.

Qu Yuan’s life resembles some aspects of the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He too served kings who scorned his warnings, and his country was ravaged. However, while Qu Yuan gave in to his despair, Jeremiah found genuine hope. Why the difference?

Jeremiah knew the Lord who offers the only true hope. “There is hope for your descendants,” God had assured His prophet. “Your children will return to their own land” (Jeremiah 31:17). Although Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 bc, it was later rebuilt (see Nehemiah 6:15).

At some point, we all find ourselves in situations that can cause us to despair. It could be a bad medical report, a sudden job loss, a shattered family. But when life knocks us down, we can still look up—for God is on the throne! He holds our days in His hands, and He holds us close to His heart.

Lord, fill me up with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that things will turn out right in Your way, in Your time.

The world hopes for the best, but the Lord offers the best hope. John Wesley

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

God tells Jeremiah to “restrain your voice from weeping” (31:16). Hope shines through. Ephraim [Israel] and Judah will repent and be restored. In a rare respite from his grief, Jeremiah can say, “My sleep had been pleasant to me” (v. 26).

What causes your tears? Know that God sees and understands them.

Tim Gustafson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is Lost

Losing things is a nuisance that seems forever mine. It’s the minor things I lose, things I seem to have given myself permission to be less attentive to keeping found. I am notorious for misplacing my car keys most of all, and my sunglasses are almost always missing. Most days I haphazardly place them somewhere near the first thing that was on my mind as I took them off or turned off the engine—which means that sometimes I find them in the laundry room and other times by the refrigerator.

Habitually missing keys are certainly a frustration, but finding them is usually as simple as retracing my steps—and there is always a spare set if they don’t turn up right away. To my husband, however, lost keys are a source of unnecessary frustration. He has worked patiently on the problem; we have a special place to put the keys when we walk through the door. Some days this works.

Other days I more resemble the woman in Jesus’s parable tearing apart the house to find the lost coin, lighting a lamp, sweeping the house, searching carefully until she finds it. And perhaps this contributes to my attitude with regard to lost keys—I know I will eventually find them. In fact, the only time I seem lose them is when I am comfortably in the confines of my own house. Sadly, sunglasses are another case entirely.

In two different parables, Jesus compares the sentiments that accompany the person who has lost something to the sentiments of the heavens over the one who is lost. When the woman in the parable has found the coin she was searching for, she calls her friends and neighbors together and asks them to celebrate with her: “I have found my lost coin!”

Jesus then concludes: “In the same way, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over even one sinner who repents.”(1)

My lost keys or pens or coins don’t typically evoke in me such sentiments. And I wonder how easy it is to carry a similar lightness about a world buried in injustice, lost in pain, distraction, or indulgence. How easy is it to give ourselves permission to be inattentive to so much around us, to see a world of need as something minor, to view our own wandering as a problem that will work itself out like lost keys? No doubt the heavens grieve over this sort of inattention even as they grieve over the lost daughter or missing son.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is Lost

Joyce Meyer – Has Your Get-Up-and-Go Got Up and Gone?

 

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. — Romans 12:11

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

I have times when I get tired of doing what I am doing. We all do. No matter what your position is in life, there will be days when you will not feel like doing it. You might even go through a longer season in which you feel listless and uninterested in almost everything.

There may be underlying reasons that you will need to prayerfully search out, but often we just need to stir ourselves up and get going again. We need to do it purposely instead of waiting for a feeling to show up and motivate us to action again.

Gratitude helps me do that. When I recount all of my blessings, I am amazed at the goodness of God in my life. It makes me thankful, and that always stirs me up and makes life look brighter. Having great expectations also energizes and motivates me.

We don’t have to wait and see if something good happens in our lives; we can aggressively expect something good to happen. David indicated that if he failed to believe he would see the Lord’s goodness, it would affect him in a detrimental way. He said, [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness… (Psalm 27:13 AMPC).

The third thing that energizes me is getting my mind off how I feel and on something I can do to be a blessing to someone else. When I do, it works every time. Before long, I find myself enthusiastic about life and excited to resume my service to the Lord.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to live life to the fullest. I want to live with passion, zeal, and appreciation for every opportunity that You give me. Help me approach this day with enthusiasm and do everything as unto You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Will Have Life

 

“But these are recorded so that you will believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing in Him you will have life” (John 20:31).

What a message you and I have to share. That is why John wrote this entire Gospel, so that we, first of all, might believe, but then also that we might share the good news with all who will listen.

“These are recorded” – the miracles presented in this gospel – so that we might believe. The goal of the book is two-fold: (1) to prove that Jesus was (is) Messiah and (2) that all those who look at the proof might be convinced and thus find eternal life.

The miracles, facts, arguments, instructions and conversations – all are directed toward that end. John’s goal (to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah), if kept steadily in view will throw much light on the book. The argument is unanswerable, framed after the strictest rules of reasoning, infinitely beyond the skill of man, and having throughout the cleared evidence of demonstration.

All Scripture is given to us for a purpose. The purpose of this particular passage is crystal clear; hence it demands some kind of response from those of us who truly believe. To know the truth is not enough. We must act on it, trusting the Lord of the harvest to make us sensitive and alert to the spiritual needs of those around us.

Bible Reading:John 3:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to be sensitive to the spiritual needs of all with whom I have contact.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – We Are His Idea

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Why does a mother love her newborn?  Because the baby is hers?  Even more.  Because the baby is her!  Her flesh.  Her blood.  Her hope.  Her legacy.  It doesn’t bother her that the baby gives nothing.  She knows a newborn is helpless and weak.  She knows babies don’t ask to come into this world.

And God knows we didn’t either.  We are his idea.  We are his.  His face.  His hands. His eyes.  His touch.  Look deeply into the face of every human being on earth, and you will see his likeness.  Though some may appear to be distant relatives, they’re not.  We are, incredibly, the body of Christ.  And though we may not act like our Father, there’s no greater truth than this:  We are his.  Unalterably, He loves us.  Undyingly. And nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!

Read more A Gentle Thunder

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Do you live in “Hauntington”?

town has changed its name to “Hauntington” at the urging of a seven-year-old.

Second grader Angelica Dee Cunningham wrote to the town council of Huntington, New York, suggesting that they make the switch for Halloween. To her surprise, they agreed.

Their decision may be a parable for our culture today.

Americans are not unique in celebrating Halloween. Romania has a Day of Dracula; Japan stages a giant parade; children in the Philippines go door to door to ask for prayers for those in Purgatory.

Nor do we devote more time and money to Halloween than other holidays. We will spend $9 billion this year on costumes, candy, and decorations. However, our Halloween spending pales in comparison to our spending on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and Christmas.

Nonetheless, I believe Halloween may reveal more about American culture than any other holiday. Here’s why.

How many Americans will participate in Halloween?

“Halloween” is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve,” the evening before All Saints’ Day. Tomorrow, the Catholic Church will focus on the saints of the Church. This tradition began in AD 609 and encourages participants to remember and emulate the heroes of the faith.

Tonight, by contrast, the focus will be strikingly different. Fifteen million American adults will dress in costumes; witches are most popular, followed by vampires, zombies, and pirates. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, you’ve been haunted by ghosts, skeletons, and dragons for weeks.

Some 69 percent of Americans plan to participate in Halloween today. Since that is three times the percentage of Catholics in America, it is clear that far more people will observe Halloween than All Saints’ Day.

What two mistakes do we make about the devil?

My point transcends popularity, however. How much time do Americans really focus on being thankful at Thanksgiving? How much attention do we really give Jesus on Christmas Day?

Continue reading Denison Forum – Do you live in “Hauntington”?