Charles Stanley –Maintaining Church Unity

 

Philippians 2:1-2

Churches all around the world experience brokenness. Christians are divided over a whole range of things, such as whether the service should be contemporary or traditional. Paul points out that unity is crucial to achieving our purpose. So how is that possible when a disagreement arises?

It all depends on what the difference of opinion is about. The fundamental tenets of the faith (for example, that Jesus is the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again) are not negotiable. However, if the dispute has to do with a nonessential issue—such as a hair-splitting interpretation of doctrine—some prayerful discussion in love is acceptable, but believers should not let it cause division. In cases like this, a consensus is likely to leave some people disappointed with the results. Yet both sides should be willing to accept differences without strife.

Years ago, I was at a rural Southern church whose congregation was divided into obvious sides. The factions were essentially separate churches. Instead of addressing lots of fringe issues, I simply began to preach the Word. Over time, people who hadn’t talked to one another in years began to unite. Why? The church is the body of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:24), so He can bring us together.

People selfishly believe their preferences are better than others’ opinions, and in human strength, there’s nothing we can do to mend our differences. But it pleases God when we sacrifice our desires for the greater good of a unified church. And obedience ultimately gives greater joy than getting our way.

Bible in One Year: John 12-13

 

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Our Daily Bread — Wisdom’s Source

 

Read: 1 Kings 3:16–28 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 34–36; Hebrews 2

Give your servant a discerning heart. 1 Kings 3:9

A man filed a lawsuit against a woman, claiming she had his dog. In court, the woman said her dog couldn’t be his and told the judge where she had purchased it. The real owner’s identity was revealed when the judge released the animal in the courtroom. Tail wagging, it immediately ran to the man!

Solomon, a judge in ancient Israel needed to settle a somewhat similar issue. Two women each claimed to be the mother of the same baby boy. After considering both arguments, he requested a sword to divide the infant in half. The real mother begged Solomon to give the baby to the other woman, choosing to save her son’s life even if she could not have him (1 Kings 3:26). Solomon gave the baby to her.

Wisdom is necessary as we decide what’s fair and moral, right and wrong. If we truly value wisdom, we can ask God for a discerning heart, like Solomon did (v. 9). God may answer our request by helping us balance our needs and desires with the interests of others. He may also help us weigh short-term benefits against long-term (sometimes eternal) gains so we can honor Him in how we live.

Our God is not only a perfectly wise judge, but He is also a personal counselor who is willing to give us godly wisdom in great amounts (James 1:5).

I worship You, God, as the true source of wisdom. Please show me how to make choices that bring honor to Your name.

Need wisdom? Seek it from the Source who alone can provide it—God.

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Unobscured

 

A trend continues to take place in the online world of anonymity. Several websites offer the opportunity to air one’s darkest secrets. Visitors put into words the very thing they have spent a lifetime wanting no one to know about themselves. While visiting, they can also read the long-hidden confessions of others, and recognize a part of humanity that is often as obscured as their own secrets—namely, I am not the only one with a mask, a conflicted heart, a hidden skeleton. “Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart,” one site reads.  “If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.” Elsewhere, one of these sites made news recently when one of its anonymous users posted a cryptic message seemingly confessing to murder, catching the attention of Chicago Police.(1)

So often the world of souls seems to move as if instinctively to the very things asked of us by a sagacious God. The invitation to confess is present in the oldest stories of Scripture. After his defiance of God’s request, Adam is asked two questions that invite an admission of his predicament; first, “Where are you?” and later, “Who told you that you were naked?” God similarly inquires of Cain after the murder of Abel, “Where is your brother?” Through centuries of changing culture and the emerging story of faith, this invitation to confess is given consistently. “Therefore confess your offenses to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed,” writes the author of James 5:16. A similar thought is proclaimed in 1 John 1:7. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Perhaps the call to transparency is not from a God who delights in the impoverishment of his subjects, but a God who knows our deepest needs.

The hope of an online confessional brings us one step nearer to meeting the need of bringing what is hidden to light, and it is commendable that so many are giving in to the impulse to explore the ancient gift of confession. But perhaps such an impulse to haul the truth from obscurity is worthy of something even greater than anonymity. Light is not meant to be kept in shadows; the benefit of openness is not meant to be experienced alone. The stories and scriptures mentioned above speak of the element of community in confession, the promise of fellowship where there is courage to be honest about our selves and our needs. On websites of nameless visitors, though I tell you my darkest secret, we remain nameless to one another. While it may help significantly to know that I am not the only one with a mask, my mask remains. The anonymity factor offers the glimpse of light while maintaining the security of darkness. But isn’t this undermining the very light we seek? It is akin to lighting a lamp and putting it under a bowl.

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Joyce Meyer – From the Inside Out

 

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. —Psalm 45:13

During the Christmas season, department store windows often feature bright, shiny presents with perfectly tied bows. These gifts may look desirable, but if we were to open them, we would find nothing inside. They are empty, just for “show.”

Our lives can be the same way, like beautifully wrapped packages with nothing of value inside. On the outside, our lives may look attractive or even enviable to others, but on the inside, we may be dry and empty. We can look spiritual on the outside but be powerless within if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to make His home in our hearts.

The verse for today emphasizes the importance of the inner life. God puts the Holy Spirit inside us to work on our inner lives—our attitudes, our responses, our motivations, our priorities, and other important things. As we submit to Christ’s Lordship in our innermost beings, we will sense when He is speaking to us, and we will experience His righteousness, peace, and joy rising up from within us to empower us for abundant living (see Romans 14:17).

The Holy Spirit lives inside us to make us more and more like Christ and to fill us with His presence and guidance, so we will have something to share with others, something that comes from deep in the core of our being and is valuable, powerful, and life giving to everyone with whom we interact.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Can Trust Him

 

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to” (Matthew 6:31-33).

As a young businessman, I was strongly attracted to the material things of the world and worked very hard to achieve success. But when I became a Christian, I could not ignore the logic of Christ’s command, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, KJV).

I made my commitment to obey His command. Since that day so many years ago, I have sought to be obedient to that command. The Lord has graciously and abundantly blessed me with the fulfillment of the promise of His supernatural provision which follows:

“Your heavenly father already knows perfectly well (the things you need), and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to.”

God is trustworthy, and the obedient, faithful Christian soon learns that he, like the psalmist of old, can proclaim:

“I have never seen the Lord forsake a man who loves Him, nor have I seen the children of the godly go hungry” (Psalm 37:25).

Bible Reading:Matthew 6:25-30

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Resting on the absolute certainties of the Word of God, I will refuse to worry about anything today (recognizing that concern involves others, while worry involves only myself). “All things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28). “My God shall supply all your need…” (Philippians 4:19). By trusting these and other promises from God’s word, I have no reason to worry

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Courteous Conduct

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Those who don’t believe in Jesus take note of what believers do.  They make decisions about Christ by watching us. When we’re kind, they assume Christ is kind.  When we’re gracious, they assume Christ is gracious.  But when we’re dishonest, what assumption will an observer make about our Master?

No wonder the apostle Paul says to “be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity. When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should” (Colossians 4:5-6).  Courteous conduct honors Christ.  It also honors his children.  When you make an effort to greet everyone in the room, especially the ones others may have overlooked, you honor God’s children with a love worth giving!

Read more Grace for the Moment II

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Congressman forgives teenager who threatened to kill him

 

“I will kill Carlos Curbelo.” This was posted to Twitter on October 24. Curbelo, a Republican congressman in Florida, responded: “Political intoxication is making some Americans more prone to both verbal and physical violence. It’s a serious crisis and we all have to do our part to put an end to it. Not sure what’s more disturbing; the fact that someone tweeted this or that 4 accounts liked it.”

The next day, FBI and local police arrested nineteen-year-old Pierre Alejandro Verges-Castro of Homestead, Florida, for making the death threat on his Twitter account. Curbelo’s office thanked the police and said the congressman would continue with his schedule as planned.

But that’s not the end of the story.

A “really, really good kid”

Last Thursday, more than a week after the arrest, Curbelo held a news conference with the teenager who threatened to kill him.

Curbelo told reporters: “Today I want everyone to know that I forgave him. As for Pierre, I wish him the best. He made a mistake and his life shouldn’t be ruined because of it.” Verges-Castro stood silently next to the congressman, who explained that the state attorney still had an open case against the teenager and that Verges-Castro would not be speaking because of that.

The next day, Curbelo told CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time that he had called authorities to ask if the teenager was truly dangerous or “just some kid who said something I’m sure he really regrets right now.” Police told him it was the latter.

So Curbelo asked for a meeting with Verges-Castro. He learned that the teenager was a “really, really good kid” who played the piano and guitar and was going to school to earn an associate degree. “He explained to me that he had some issues in his personal life that he thinks pushed him to do something like this, and he also talked about the toxicity of our politics and how nasty and negative everything is.”

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