Charles Stanley – A Person of Godly Influence

 

Daniel 1:1-21

When Daniel was taken to Babylon, he had no idea God would give him an ever-widening sphere of influence. So what made him different from the other captives from Israel? His godly influence flowed from his strong beliefs based in Scripture.

Commitment. Daniel did not simply know God’s law; he was convinced there was no other way to live. When tested, he remained unswervingly faithful to God and His Word, because he considered obedience non-negotiable.

Following God doesn’t mean living out biblical principles only when it’s convenient or easy. Obedience is to be our consistent lifestyle no matter what the circumstances are. Without a firm commitment to our beliefs, we’ll waver back and forth, be a poor witness, and eventually give in to temptation.

Courage. As a captive, Daniel had no authority. Therefore, approaching the king’s chief official for special dietary consideration required courage. Although he had no way to know the outcome, Daniel didn’t let fear dominate his emotions. He simply trusted the Lord and spoke out.

God rewarded Daniel’s faithfulness with superior knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of all kinds, which resulted in his gaining greater influence in the Babylonian and Persian empires. Because of Daniel’s commitment to God and his courage in standing firm, his godly impact extended for many years.

The Lord doesn’t raise all believers to high positions of influence. But He wants to use each of us to impact others for Christ in whatever sphere of influence He’s given us. Therefore, we too need commitment to God’s Word, the courage to obey, and the confidence to trust the Lord with the outcome.

Bible in One Year: 1 Corinthians 4-6

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Solid Foundation

 

Read: Matthew 7:24–27 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 33–34; 1 Peter 5

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

Last summer my husband and I toured Fallingwater, a house in rural Pennsylvania designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Wright wanted to create a home that rose organically out of the landscape, as if it could have grown there—and he accomplished his goal. He built the house around an existing waterfall, and its style mirrors the neighboring rock ledges. Our tour guide explained what made the construction safe: “The whole vertical core of the house,” she said, “rests on boulders.”

Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words to His disciples. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told them that what He was teaching would be the sure foundation for their lives. If they heard His words and put them into practice, they would be able to withstand any storms. Those who heard but didn’t obey, in contrast, would be like a house built on sand (Matthew 7:24–27). Later, Paul echoed this thought, writing that Christ is the foundation, and we must build upon it with work that will endure (1 Corinthians 3:11).

When we listen to the words of Jesus and obey them, we’re building our lives on a steady, rock-solid foundation. Maybe our lives can look a little like Fallingwater, beautiful and built to last on the Rock.

God, help us to hear and obey the words of Jesus!

What are you building your life around?

By Amy Peterson

INSIGHT

In Matthew 7:24–27, Jesus says following His teachings is wise and prudent, for they are the foundation on which a full and healthy life is built. He makes this statement after giving the Sermon on the Mount, which contains what has been considered by some the most difficult and stringent guidelines for life. But we aren’t left to live this life on our own; we are dependent on the Spirit. These requirements extend beyond actions and into the thoughts and attitudes. A person who honors God with his or her whole life will remain steady in the storms of life (vv. 24–25).

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Power, Truth, and Beauty

Whether in conversations with Christians, skeptics, or firm-believers of other religions, the issue of truth is often in the forefront of my mind. As I engage with questioners who want to know how I can trust the Bible, or how anyone could believe the resurrection was an actual event, or how on earth a man who lived two millennia ago could have anything to do with us today, the question that comes to mind as I listen is similar to theirs, yet asked with the wonder of a witness: Is it true? Can it be true that God has come so near, that Christ is so loving, that God reigns and has opened wide the doors to the kingdom? Can it be true that the power of the gospel is such that I can be called a witness? It is an inquiry that orients me as I engage in conversations that otherwise reduce matters of faith and religion to personal preference.

Is it true? In fact, even Jesus in his conversation with Pilate couched his identity in the authority of truth: “You are right in saying that I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). In our current religious context, where preference and choice are often played as trump cards, reintroducing truth as a category is often necessary.

And yet, communicating the gospel isn’t only about communicating the truth. This is not to say, of course, that the gospel is untrue or that truth is not one of the most significant factors in my decision to follow Christ. Far from this, the truth of the gospel is indeed one of the reasons why I believe it is good news. But it is Christ himself who is in fact the news! Whether the apostle Paul was wearing the hat of preacher, prisoner, nurse, or mentor, the content of his message was always Christ; he knew that even truth can be made an idol if lifted above Christ himself. In fact, the most distinctive quality of Paul’s ministry is that he believed himself a witness standing at the scene of God’s kingdom testifying to all that he saw—not a detective or prosecutor or whistle-blower trying to expose the truth at all costs.

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Joyce Meyer – Determine Your Priorities

 

You shall have no other gods before me.  — Exodus 20:3

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

The best way to determine if God is first in your life is to slow down and ask yourself some simple questions: What do I think about the most? What do I pray and talk about the most? What do I do with my time?

You see, we always make time for what we really want to do—no matter how busy we are. If you want to spend time with God, then you are going to make Him a priority.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where your priorities are out of line. Then allow His conviction to motivate you to seek a deeper relationship with God. It is God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Who will give you the ability to adjust your lifestyle and bring it in line with the Word (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT).

If you truly want Him to, He will enable you to put God first in your thoughts, conversations, and actions. You may need to make some changes in your schedule, but they will be ones that will produce good results.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I want to put You first in my life. Help me to prioritize my schedule and make the necessary changes to spend more time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Does the Work

 

“And I am sure the God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6).

Howard was adamant in his conviction. “I would never lead anyone to Christ that I could not personally follow up to be sure he matures and grows and becomes all that God wants him to be.”

“Since when did you assume the responsibility of the Holy Spirit?” I asked.

Obviously, we are to do everything we can to help a new believer grow to maturity in Christ – by teaching him to trust God, study His word, pray, live a holy life, and share his faith with others. But no matter how much we do, it is the Holy Spirit who helps the new believer come to Christ, and who illumines his heart with the Word. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and empowers us to witness. In fact, there would be no supernatural life apart from the Holy Spirit.

Paradoxically, you and I can be confident, yet humble, when we think of all that we are, and all that we have in Christ, and realize that we are not responsible for any of it, but it is something which God has given us according to His grace. My only boast is in God, His Son Jesus Christ and His indwelling Holy Spirit. How can I boast of my abilities and achievements, when it is the Giver alone who is worthy of all honor and praise? The apostle Paul had the strong conviction that the work God had begun in the believer would be permanent. All events that transpire in our lives, all influences, heartaches, testings and sorrows, as well as all of the blessings, are designed to conform us to the image of Christ.

Bible Reading:1 Corinthians 1:4-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: God, who saved me, continues to work in my life, conforming me to the image of Christ. Therefore, I will continue to trust and obey Him, as I draw upon His supernatural resources

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – You Can’t Affect God’s Love

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The supreme surprise of God’s love?  It has nothing to do with you. Others love you because of you, because your dimples dip when you smile or your rhetoric charms when you flirt.  Some people love you because of you.  Not God.  He loves you because he is He.  He loves you because he decides to.  Self-generated, uncaused, and spontaneous, his constant-level love depends on his choice to give it.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 says, “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the LORD loved you.” You don’t influence God’s love.  You can’t impact the tree-ness of a tree, the sky-ness of the sky or the rock-ness of a rock. Nor can you affect the love of God.

Read more Grace for the Moment II

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Are “designer babies” here?

It sounds like the plot of a bad science-fiction movie: a renegade scientist violates global moral standards to engineer a new breed of humans. But that’s what has happened, if a Chinese scientist is to be believed.

He Jiankui, a researcher with a PhD from Rice University and postdoctoral training at Stanford, announced this week that he has created the world’s first genetically edited babies. The twin girls were born this month.

However, Dr. He did not publish his research in any journal or share any evidence or data to prove his claims. He spoke today at the Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong, where he announced another “potential pregnancy” involved in his study. He said he felt “proud” of his work in the face of nearly universal condemnation.

“I think that’s completely insane”

Dr. He states that the father of the twins has HIV. As a result, Dr. He used a genetic editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas-9 to disable the embryos’ CCR5 gene to make them resistant to HIV infection.

However, there are other ways to produce embryos from HIV-infected men without altering their genes. An HIV expert said that about half of HIV strains don’t need the gene Dr. He edited to infect patients, meaning the immunity he tried to confer is not complete. A gene-editing expert warned that people without normal CCR5 genes face higher risks of getting certain other viruses such as West Nile and of dying from the flu.

Many scientists are appalled by this announcement. “I think that’s completely insane,” said Shoukhrat Mitalipov, director of the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy at Oregon Health and Science University.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Are “designer babies” here?