Charles Stanley – The Influence of Our Convictions

 

2 Timothy 1:8-14

We usually think of influential people as those who have authority, position, or power in the world, but in reality, we all have influence to one degree or another. The term describes the capacity to have an effect on someone else’s character, development, or behavior.

This is exactly what Christ has called believers to do by proclaiming the gospel and encouraging one another in the faith. However, in order to have a godly impact on others, we must first be convinced that the Bible is true. Then as we grow in knowledge of the truth, we can help others know Jesus, understand scriptural principles, and live obediently by them.

Paul advised Timothy to “retain the standard of sound words” in the faith (2 Timothy 1:13), and these same truths have been delivered to us.

  1. The Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God. There are no mistakes in it, and it is wholly true (2 Timothy 3:16; John 17:17).
  2. There is one God, and He exists in three persons. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all members of the triune Godhead (Matt. 28:19).
  3. Eternal life is received only through faith in Jesus. Salvation cannot be earned by good works (John 14:6; Eph. 2:8-9).
  4. Jesus will one day return for those who believe in Him, and He’ll take them to heaven (John 14:2-3). But unbelievers will remain under divine wrath.

As the culture around us becomes more resistant to Christian influence, holding to these convictions will require solid commitment and steady courage. So determine not to let compromise steal your godly influence.

Bible in One Year: 1 Corinthians 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — God Is Here

 

Read: Hosea 6:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 27–29; 1 Peter 3

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. Hosea 6:3

A plaque in our home states “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” A modern version might read, “Acknowledged or unacknowledged, God is here.”

Hosea, an Old Testament prophet who lived in the late eighth century bc (755–715), wrote similar words to the Hebrew nation. He encouraged the Israelites to “press on” (Hosea 6:3) to acknowledge God because they had forgotten Him (4:1). As the people forgot God’s presence, they began to turn away from Him (v. 12) and before long there was no room for God in their thoughts (see Psalm 10:4).

Hosea’s simple but profound insight to acknowledge God reminds us He’s near and at work in our lives, in both the joys and struggles.

To acknowledge God might mean that when we get a promotion at work, we recognize God gave us insight to finish our work on time and within budget. If our housing application is rejected, acknowledging God helps to sustain us as we trust Him to work in the situation for our good.

If we don’t make it into the college of our choice, we can acknowledge God is with us and take comfort in His presence even in our disappointment. As we enjoy dinner, to acknowledge God may be to remind ourselves of God’s provision of the ingredients and a kitchen to prepare the meal.

When we acknowledge God, we remember His presence in both the successes and sorrows, whether big or small, of our lives.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for the times I am prone to forget You. Help me to acknowledge Your presence in my life.

God is always present and at work.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

James Limburg comments on today’s passage in his book Interpretation: Hosea—Micah: “The contrast which comes to expression in Hosea 6:6 is between two fundamentally different notions of religion. The one thinks in terms of discharging religious obligations through . . . sacrifice and offering; the other speaks of loyal love and of acknowledging God as God. . . . When religion becomes preoccupied with the niceties of liturgy, the nuances of language, the novelties of music, art, and architecture, but forgets the neighbor, then religion has been reduced to cultic correctness . . . . True religion has that rich word hesed [steadfast love] at its center, recalling God’s steadfast love (Ps. 136) and mercy (Titus 3:5–7) and then calling for lives which respond to that love with loyal devotion to God and loving service to the neighbor.”

Are there areas of your life where the line between religion and relationship has become blurry?

For more on true devotion to God, read Following Jesus: Relationship or Religion? at discoveryseries.org/q0215.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Love of People

Let love be our legacy is a sticker that adorns the back bumper of my car. Passed out by churches in my county after the early days of the 2016 presidential election in the US, at the very least it reminds me to be careful how I drive and react to other drivers on the highways and roads of my city and state. For how could a car with that kind of bumper sticker cut someone off in traffic?

Obviously, the sentiment conveyed is far more than simply a corrective to road-rage or crazy driving. It points to a future yet to come when I am long-gone and others talk about the imprint (if any) my life has made. Will it be an imprint of love? Did love guide my choices such that there is a future left for all who will come after me? And not just any future, but a world characterized by love, even filled up to overflowing.

On my good days, I am very conscious of my bumper sticker and take its challenge very seriously. I ask myself if love was the legacy from this day. On my bad days, the bumper sticker simply reminds me of how short I fall when it comes to love; it is nothing more than a platitude or a pretend piety that barely hides my misanthropy. I see the real size of my heart and it is so small. The legacy of love seems an impossible dream.

French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre once wrote: “Hell is other people.” In his play, No Exit, Sartre presents a sardonic vision of hell as the place in which one must spend eternity with individuals one would barely seek to spend five minutes with in real life. As one writer notes, “The most terrible, exasperating torment, in Sartre’s eyes, is the agony of soul caused by having to live forever alongside someone who drives you up the wall. Their annoying habits, their pettiness or cynicism or stupidity, their disposition and tastes that so frustratingly conflict with yours and require, if you are to live in communion with them, some sort of accommodation or concession of your own likes and desires—that, says Sartre, is Hell.”(1) Sartre’s vision, though highly narcissistic and individualistic, is often closer to our real selves than most of us would care to admit.

Living, working, and interacting with other people can indeed create a hellish existence for many. And most of us, if we are honest, can quickly think of the names of individuals whose personal habits or grating personalities make relating to them very difficult at best. Sartre’s honesty, albeit through a cynical lens, also exposes clear boundaries of human love. The capacity for love is generally offered to those who are easy to love or who share our own way of living in and viewing the world.

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Joyce Meyer – The Courage to Say “No”

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. — John 10:10

Adapted from the resource New Day New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

My husband Dave once did one of the wisest things I’ve seen. Before we entered full-time ministry, he worked as an engineer. He was offered a promotion that included a pay raise and a lot of prestige. But he turned it down.

At first I was angry with him. I thought he was making a big mistake. Didn’t he want to climb the corporate ladder? Wasn’t he the best person for the job?

He explained that he had watched the other men in that position. They had to travel extensively, and they were constantly saddled with unreasonable deadlines that put them under tremendous stress.

“That is not the way I want to live,” Dave said. He chose the position that allowed him to stick to his core values—commitment to family, and comfort with self— rather than chasing corporate power so others would look up to him.

Besides, why choose a bigger paycheck if you just spend it on doctor bills to relieve your stress-induced illnesses? Job stress causes as much illness in this country as smoking and lack of exercise. Like those things, it kills.

Do whatever you need to do to make sure you fully enjoy the life He has provided for you. Sometimes saying “no” takes more courage than saying “yes”.

You can take this concept beyond the work arena. Removing all the things from your schedule that aren’t bearing good fruit will greatly reduce your stress level and enable you to truly enjoy the things you choose to concentrate on.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I ask for Your help to manage my schedule wisely. Help me to keep my priorities straight and learn to say “no” to things that will pull me away from what’s important in life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Saved From Trouble

 

“Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to Him for help, and saves him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:17).

You and I have one of the greatest privileges ever known to mankind – that of calling on God with the assurance that He will hear and answer us.

No trouble we face today will be too great for us to bring God, who has promised to save us out of all our troubles.

True, He suggests certain conditions that must be met for such praying to be effective, but these conditions are not grievous. They are attainable by “whosoever will.”

One of these conditions is referred to by the psalmist, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18, KJV). According to God’s Word, that means I must not even allow wrong feelings and critical attitudes against others to fester in my heart and mind, but rather I must confess them the moment they arise and then trust God for the forgiveness He promises.

Another condition is suggested in the well-known verse on revival: “If my people…will humble themselves, and pray…” (2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV). Even before that time of intercession with the Lord, I must be sure to humble myself, to recognize God as my Lord and Master, and His Holy Spirit as one who sits and rules and reigns on the throne of my life.

As a result, God will produce in my life those qualities of the supernatural life.

Bible Reading:Psalm 35:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Confession and humbling will precede prayer in my life this day, so that I may be sure God hears and will answer

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – What to do With Worries

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Romans 8:32 says, “God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us.  If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else?”

Take your anxieties to the cross—literally. Next time you’re worried about your health or house or finances or flights, take a mental trip up the hill. Run your thumb over the tip of the spear.  Balance a spike in the palm of your hand.  Read the wooden sign written in your own language.  And as you do, touch the velvet dirt, moist with the blood of God. Blood he bled for you.  The spear he took for you.  The nails he felt for you.  The sign he left for you.  He did all of this—for you.  Knowing this, knowing all he did for you there, don’t you think he will look out for you here?

Read more Grace for the Moment II

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – The Santa Clausification of Christmas

I need to begin with a disclaimer: I am a fan of Santa Claus. I have fond memories of writing wish-list letters to him as a child and bringing our sons to visit him at the mall when they were children.

My purpose this morning is not to criticize the commercialization of Christmas, but to explore a different though related topic.

How important is religion to Americans?

In the latest Pew Research Center report, 20 percent of those surveyed named “religious faith” as the “most important” source of meaning in their lives.

Here’s the good news: religion received more votes than any source except “family.” Here’s the bad news: in a nation where 72 percent of the population identifies as Christian, a large majority of those claiming to follow Jesus do not find meaning in life primarily from their relationship with him.

He may be part of their lives, but he is not central to them.

How to get along with God

Of all life’s priorities, which should come first? Here’s God’s answer: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Scripture repeatedly emphasizes the importance of putting the Lord first in our lives (cf. Matthew 6:33Exodus 20:3Colossians 3:2). God does not share his glory. If he did, he would be committing idolatry.

Years ago, I heard a preacher warn: “If you want to get along with God, stay off his throne.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – The Santa Clausification of Christmas

Are You Ready to Stop Watching the Never-Ending Commercial?

We fool ourselves if we think the campaign commercials are over now, or that the campaigning is limited to the two months leading up to election day.

The United States has just endured the most expensive midterm elections in history.  Most of us are tired of campaign commercials and are glad that they no longer run on television.  But we fool ourselves if we think the commercials are really over or that the campaigning is limited to the two months leading up to election day.

The commercials continue, if only in different forms.  Political commercials have, somehow, taken over nearly every facet of our lives and every activity we experience.  This infestation has happened so gradually that we barely notice how thorough the campaigning has become.  We complain about “media bias” and “mixing politics with entertainment,” but we are still mired in the trees and do not see the forest.  But the forest has overgrown into every aspect of our leisure time.

On television, the real commercial is found in the programs more than the nominal commercial breaks.  Network programs plug socialized medicine, either with some fawning reference to the Canadian system or complaints about prescription drug prices and “big pharma.”  For nearly two decades, virtually every prime-time show has featured gay characters politicizing their orientation.  Police and legal shows advocate increased immigration while claiming that unlimited immigration is somehow the law.  Popular sitcoms feature promiscuity while ridiculing those who fail to be promiscuous.

The point is not simply that television features bad things.  We already knew that.  The point is that television programs are little more than commercials for promiscuity, unfettered immigration, socialized medicine, gay rights, and the rest of the Democrat agenda.

Movies are not at all different.  Every movie (with a few marginalized exceptions) revises history in some way and serves as a Democrat campaign commercial.  The Academy Awards are today’s equivalent of Orwell’s “two minutes hate” against Republican politicians.

For those who seek refuge in sports, the NFL and its broadcasters have surrendered completely to the Democrat platform.  The NFL is unable to stop the National Anthem protests, while the sponsors embrace the protesters.  The athletes make headlines by refusing to attend White House functions during GOP administrations.  The NFL uses its tremendous leverage to bully state and local governments to adopt certain policies.  The NFL refuses to run ads by the Border Patrol during the Super Bowl.  Broadcasters often refuse to say they word “Redskin” for fear of offending someone.

Music is no less political.  Popular songs have advocated promiscuity and drugs for many decades.  The music award shows are as political as the Academy Awards or the Emmys.

A Republican vice president cannot attend a Broadway musical without being shouted at and insulted by the cast during the performance.  Classrooms have long been platforms for leftist advocacy.  Honest dissent is squelched.  Speech codes are enforced.  Admissions are politicized.  Truly free speech is shouted down by protesters.

Published books have also become little more than leftist commercials.  Observe the shelves at a major bookstore.  A few “conservative” books appear on the “Politics” shelf.  But the leftist books can be found throughout every department of the store – gender studies, history, education, psychology, sociology, fiction, environmental studies, sports, religious studies, arts, etc.  Those books, no matter how varied their subject matter, have one goal in mind – selling the Democrat message.  The gardening books advocate hiring illegal aliens.  The sports books reminisce about Vietnam.  The commercials never end.

Even your personal computer’s home page is locked to the scrolling “feed” chosen by Microsoft, with all of its MSNBC anti-Trump headlines and pictures.  The same content scrolls across the flat screen behind the tellers at the bank and many other businesses with a lobby or waiting room.  MSNBC’s images and political messages are seemingly inescapable.

The same commercial runs from the time we wake up (the morning talk shows) through dinner (the evening news) until we go to bed (the late-night “comedians”).

With every one of these examples – music, movies, television, books, education, sports – the conservative viewpoint is treated like the “other leading brand” in the old commercials for household products.  The story is rigged against conservatives, and the outcome of each movie, show, and song is pre-ordained.  If you spend your money or time on popular culture, you will see the Democrats beat your “other leading brand” almost every time.

Should we stop watching all movies, television, and plays?  Should we stop reading books?  Avoid college for ourselves and our children?  Boycott popular culture until it changes?

The answer is “no.”  A boycott is meant to force someone to do what we want.  But the left will never truly change.  Leftists will become cleverer and subtler.  Their movies and books and songs will always be thinly disguised commercials.  We must abandon the idea that we might someday return to our beloved television sets after we force the left’s hand.  The television that we knew is gone – if it ever really existed.  We must recognize that fact and find something new.

Our desire for entertainment and enlightenment can be satisfied with something other than television and the rest of today’s popular culture.  Popular culture is, by definition, what we make of it.  If we find something else instead of accepting whatever the establishment spoon-feeds us, the culture will change.

Many books are so old that they predate the standard Democrat commercial.  Almost every book ever written is available from internet sellers or interlibrary loan.  We have the whole world at our fingertips.  Why should we limit ourselves to the latest releases while old, quality books collect dust in some basement or warehouse?

The same is true of television and movies.  There were better programs and movies many decades ago.  Those movies are still available to entertain you and provide perspective.  You can find them if you would only look.

We cannot force football players to love their country.  The NFL apparently will always be a platform for those who do not respect the flag, you, or the country as a whole.  The commercial will continue.  The only question is whether you will pay to endure that commercial.  In the past two years, NFL ratings and attendance have declined.  Unless you have developed a gambling addiction through your fantasy football league, there is no reason to devote your Sundays to the NFL instead of joining your fellow consumers in finding something else to do.  Instead of boycotting with the hope of coming back later to a new and improved NFL, we can abandon the commercial completely, thus freeing ourselves once and for all.

The permanent commercial can continue only with the help of your money and time.  You can pay to see the same commercial every day in every movie, book, song, and sporting event.  Or you can turn off the commercial.

There was once a time before television and movies dominated our culture.  More recently, there was a time before football dominated television.  We never lacked something to do.

It is time to starve the beast.  This year’s elections serve as a reminder that we have more than a political reason to do so.  We have the added benefit of freeing ourselves from the never-ending commercial that our popular culture has become.

 

 

 

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