Charles Stanley – This Godless Age

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Scripture tells us that the years leading up to Christ’s return will be difficult. Because of man’s ongoing rebellion against the Lord, ungodliness will continue to increase. Even in our own culture, we can see opposition to Jesus is growing, and various sins that were once condemned are gaining acceptance. Many people have bought into Satan’s lie that we can live without the Lord and still find happiness, prosperity, and peace—the devil tempted Eve to believe she could find satisfaction outside of God’s will, and he does the same with us today.

Today’s passage lists traits that will be common prior to Christ’s return:

Lovers of self. Self-centeredness (placing a priority on what will profit us most) and selfishness (wanting to keep what we have) will be rampant.

Lovers of money. The acquisition of wealth to fuel pleasures, provide security, or gain possessions will be a strong motivator.

Boastful. Pride caused Satan to be cast from heaven, and it prevents people from submitting to Jesus’ authority. Arrogance, which harms relationships and consequently damages many areas of life, will permeate society.

The Bible also describes other characteristics of the age. These will include abusive behaviors, unforgiving attitudes, and a lack of self-control.

It’s easy to see similarities between modern society and Scripture’s description of the years before Christ’s second coming. While discouraging, these prophetic signs are precursors of the day Jesus returns to set things right. Our hope is to rest in His promises, not in the circumstances around us.

Bible in One Year: Acts 16-17

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Thanks for Who God Is

 

Read: Psalm 95:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 3–4; Hebrews 11:20–40

Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . . for the Lord is the great God. Psalm 95:2–3

Among the thousands of sentiments printed on greeting cards, perhaps one of the most touching is this simple statement: “Thanks for being you.” If you receive that card, you know that someone cares for you not because you did something spectacular for that person but because you’re appreciated for your essence.

I wonder if this kind of sentiment might indicate for us one of the best ways to say “thank you” to God. Sure, there are times when God intervenes in our lives in a tangible way, and we say something like, “Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to get that job.” But most often, we can simply say, “Thank You, God, for being who You are.”

That’s what’s behind verses like 1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Thank You, God, for who You are—good and loving. And Psalm 7:17: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness.” Thank You, God, for who You are—the holy One. And “Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . . for the Lord is the great God” (Psalm 95:2–3). Thank You, God, for who You are—the Almighty God of the universe.

Who God is. That’s reason enough for us to stop what we’re doing and praise and thank Him. Thank You, God, for just being You!

Thank You, dear God, for being who You are—the Almighty God who loves us and welcomes our love in return. Thank You for everything that makes You magnificent. We stand in awe of You as we praise You with word and song.

There are countless reasons to thank God, including for who He is!

By Dave Branon

INSIGHT

In Psalm 95, the psalmist is transfixed by the wonder of the Creator and Redeemer he loves. God is the “Rock of our salvation”; nothing can remove the sure foundation His love has laid out for us (v. 1). Even though the psalmist knows there’s only one God, because of the polytheistic culture in which he lives he exclaims that his God is far above any other objects of worship (v. 3). The wonder of the Creator drives the psalmist to invite all believers to bow down in adoration and to realize that like sheep we are under a loving Shepherd’s care.

How can you praise the Lord for His marvelous creation and infinite love?

Dennis Fisher

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – An Unexpected Encounter

 

During my high school years, my friends and I would always attend church youth group on Friday evenings. More often than not, these events comprised of playing different games and eating food. After the games were done, we would be ushered in to a room where we would sing songs and then listen to a short talk given by the youth leader. I knew what to do in these moments. I had become an expert at tuning out religious or spiritual talk. I had fifteen years of growing up in a Christian home which consisted of attending church twice every Sunday, one midweek service in addition to another church club. I was a well-seasoned Christian, or at least I thought I was.

But on this particular Friday evening, something happened that I will never forget. I was in the chapel listening to people singing songs, but it all felt so different. I looked across the room and saw people singing as if they really meant what they were singing. People were not only singing about God. They were singing to God. They looked and acted as if God were really in the room. And I must confess that it was the first time, at least to my remembrance, that I felt that same reality. The only way I can describe this moment is to tell you that God was in the room.

I did not sing. I saw the words on the screen. I looked at the person leading the songs and stubbornly did not sing a word. But here’s where things became a bit complicated. The fact is, I did want to sing. All my life, my soul longed to sing out to God. It is hard to explain this tension, but let me put it like this. My soul longed to sing out a song to God, to God’s greatness, but I felt that up to that point, if I were to sing I would simply be singing a song for the sake of being in church. I had never felt the “Godness” of God. It was in this moment that I first sensed the greatness of God all around me. I gave in and started singing.

And what pleasure I felt when I sang. I did not fully comprehend this God to whom I was singing, and I still don’t, but I knew that the one to whom I was singing was real. Deep down, I knew that God was real. Worship, in this case, came before I placed my utter dependence in God. As I tried to make sense of what I experienced that evening, I came across the writings of the late Abraham Heschel. He once wrote that “the secret to spiritual living is the power to praise. Praise is the harvest of love. Praise precedes faith. First we sing, then we believe. The fundamental issue is not faith but sensitivity and praise, being ready for faith.”(1) My heart’s expression of worship at the Friday night youth event served as a means to knowing and understanding God more. Indeed, as Heschel pointed out, trust in God was obtained by first acknowledging and responding to the reality of God.

Christian conversion happens in many different ways. As it has been said, there is only one gospel but there are many ways to that gospel. In my case, on one particular evening while I was midway through high school I attended a church youth event not looking for God and was confronted with God’s presence. God’s presence was immediate and palpable. It was then that I encountered God for the first time. I was “overtaken with awe of God.”(2) and in singing out, even raising my hands to God, I experienced a rich pleasure that I had never before tasted, pleasure because my voice and hands were finally able to express what my soul had so longed for.

Nathan Betts is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) Abraham Joshua Heschel, Who Is Man? (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1965), 116.

(2) Ibid.

 

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Speak God’s Mind

 

“Listen, for I will speak excellent and noble things; and the opening of my lips will reveal right things.” — Proverbs 8:6 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Starting Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

One of our biggest mistakes we make is that we sometimes answer people too quickly, just giving them something off the top of our head. Only a fool utters his whole mind (see Proverbs 29:11 KJV).

Those who speak frequently and hastily are always in trouble, as the Bible says, There are those who speak rashly, like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18 AMPC).

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to pay attention to the things I say. Let my words today bring healing, wisdom and encouragement to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Overwhelming Love

 

“But despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us” (Romans 8:37).

Today I prayed with a beloved friend who is dying of cancer. As he and his precious wife and I held hands, we lifted our voices in praise to God, knowing that He makes no mistakes, that “all things work together for good to those who love Him,” and that he is fully aware of my brother’s body riddled with pain as a result of cancerous cells that are on a warpath. Together we claimed that victory which comes from an unwavering confidence in Christ’s sufficiency.

The victory comes, of course, through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. Such love is beyond our ability to grasp with our minds, but it is not beyond our ability to experience with our hearts. God’s love is unconditional and it is constant. Because He is perfect, His love is perfect, too.

The Scriptures tell of a certain lawyer who asked Jesus, “Sir, which is the most important command in the Law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

The question may come to your mind: “Why does God want our love?”

From a human standpoint, this could appear selfish and egotistical. But God, in His sovereignty and love, has so created man that he finds his greatest joy and fulfillment when he loves God with all his heart and soul and mind, and his neighbor as himself.

Early in my Christian life, I was troubled over the command to love God so completely. But now the Holy Spirit has filled my heart with God’s love. And as I meditate on the “overwhelming victory” that He gives us, I find my love for Him growing.

Bible Reading:Romans 8:35-39

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: His great love and “overwhelming victory” for me prompts me to respond with supernatural love for Him and for others

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Saying Yes to God’s Purpose

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

After Christ’s forty-day pause in the wilderness, the people of Capernaum tried to keep him from leaving them.  But he said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:42-43). He resisted the undertow of the people by anchoring to the rock of his purpose; employing his uniqueness to make a big deal out of God everywhere he could.

And aren’t you glad he did? Suppose he had heeded the crowd and set up camp in Capernaum, reasoning, “I thought the whole world was my target and the cross my destiny.  But the entire town tells me to stay in Capernaum.  Could all these people be wrong?” Yes they could!  In defiance of the crowd, Jesus said no to good things so he could say yes to the right thing– his unique call!  I’m praying we do the same.

Read more Grace for the Moment II

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Gospel-powered prison reform

In a rare reminder that sometimes helping people can be more important than maintaining party lines, President Trump joined with members on both sides of the aisle in Congress this week to announce that he will support a bipartisan prison reform bill. It might reach his desk as soon as next month. The bill will roll back certain elements of existing crime laws with regard to issues like minimum sentencing for nonviolent crimes.

President Trump stated that it was his “honor to be involved, and it’ll be an even greater honor to sign” the new law. As Ja’Ron Smith, the president’s domestic policy adviser, said of the bill, “What we’re doing here is finding a better way to be smart on crime. We want prison to serve as a place to lock up the people who are the most detrimental to society.”

But what about those prisoners who will be relatively unaffected by the new legislation?

There’s encouraging news for them as well.

The chance to be human again

As Yonat Shimron writes for Religion News Serviceseminaries across the country are increasingly partnering with prisons to help inmates get bachelor’s degrees in subjects like pastoral ministry and biblical studies. The goal is to train inmates to “become ‘field ministers’ who can serve as counselors for other inmates, lead prayers, assist prison chaplains and generally serve as a calming influence in prison yards.”

To that end, “Applicants must be felons serving minimum 15-year sentences with a high school diploma or GED and a clean disciplinary record for at least a year.” The point is to equip inmates to be positive forces for the gospel from inside the prison.

And the program works.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Gospel-powered prison reform