Charles Stanley –God’s Unchanging Love

 

Romans 8:31-39

The limitless, unfailing love of God is difficult for man to grasp. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that divine love is sure, eternal, and in no way dependent upon our worthiness or good behavior. If we are born-again believers, nothing can lessen the Father’s love for us. However, since we struggle to wrap our minds around this truth, He sometimes increases our perception by using earthly examples.

For many years, I had a German schnauzer named Rommel. Every afternoon as I pulled my car into the driveway, Rommel ran to greet me. Many times he would appear to stand at attention by the front of the house as if to say, “Welcome home, sir. Everything is under control here!”

Now sometimes I had to correct or discipline Rommel for something he had done or for the occasional accident around the house. However, no matter what I did, whether it was a reprimand or withholding attention from time to time, he never seemed to love me any less. Rommel was always happy to see me and longed for my company.

One day while I was playing with him, the Lord taught me a lesson. I looked at my faithful dog and said, “Rommel, no matter what I do, you always love me. I’d like to be that kind of friend.” If a dog can exemplify this simple truth, we should aim for nothing less.

But this realization also taught me something about Jesus: He never changes, and His love never waivers. No matter what I do or how I fail, He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Bible in One Year: Revelation 13-17

 

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Our Daily Bread — All Things New

 

Read: Revelation 21:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Zechariah 13–14; Revelation 21

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Junkyards intrigue me. I enjoy working on cars, so I frequently make trips to the one near our home. It’s a lonely place, where the wind whispers through discarded hulks that were once someone’s prized possession. Some were wrecked, some wore out, and others simply outlived their usefulness. As I walk between the rows, a car will sometimes catch my eye, and I’ll find myself wondering about the adventures it had during its “lifetime.” Like a portal to the past, each has a story to tell—of human hankering after the latest model and the inescapable passage of time.

But I take particular pleasure in finding new life for an old part. Whenever I can take something discarded and give it new life in a restored vehicle, it feels like a small victory against time and decline.

It sometimes makes me think of Jesus’s words at the end of the Bible: “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5). These words refer to God’s renewal of creation, which includes believers. Already, all who’ve received Jesus are a “new creation” in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

And one day we will enter into His promise of unending days with Him (John 14:3). Age and disease will no longer take their toll, and we will continue the adventure of an eternal lifetime. What stories each of us will have to tell—stories of our Savior’s redeeming love and undying faithfulness.

Loving Lord, I praise You that I am a new creation in You, and that in Your kindness and mercy You have given me the promise of eternal life.

The end of a year and beginning of another is an opportunity for a fresh start. What might God be making new in your life?

By James Banks

INSIGHT

Today’s passage gives us a glimpse of heaven, describing it as a physical place (vv. 1–2). Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us (John 14:2–3), and this promise is fulfilled in the New Jerusalem, the holy city (Revelation 21:2). While it’s a great comfort that heaven is a perfect place (v. 4), the most important thing is that it’s the dwelling place of God (v. 3). In this final vision of the beginning of eternity (21:1–22:9), John hears Christ declaring, “It is done” (21:6). The New Living Translation renders it, “It is finished!” echoing Christ’s victorious cry from the cross (John 19:30). Sin’s curse will one day be completely removed and reversed (Revelation 21:4–5; see Genesis 3:16–19).

  1. T. Sim

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Passing and The Abiding

A New Year’s Reflection from Ravi Zacharias

Henry Frances Lyte, at least on this side of the Atlantic, may be a name that only great lovers of hymns will recognize. He is the author of the famous hymn “Abide with Me.” Very few hymns have merited a whole book on the background of their writing. “Abide with Me” is one of those. I am indebted to the author of an old volume that tells the story for the numerous facts he has culled.1

The first time I heard this hymn I was a nine-year-old boy standing by the graveside of my grandmother, who died in her seventies. Little did I know then that I was listening to words that had such a solemn and powerful history. I don’t know what it was about the hymn that gripped me even then, but I recall wiping away tears hearing “In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.” I was not fully comprehending but grasping just enough to know we were in need of a Presence and of comfort.

Lyte was a natural poet. Having lost his parents early and been cared for by the headmaster of the school, who became his guardian, he was tenderhearted and his emotions ran deep. It is an incredible story. At age seven, he was orphaned when both his parents abandoned him, each for different reasons: a father who turned his back on responsibility and a mother who left to make a living. His poetic genius began to surface early, as he longed to belong. He recalled bedtime as a child being tearful, as he wished for even the shadow of his mother to pass by. Here are the first four lines from an early piece. (The whole poem is beautiful.)

Stay gentle shadow of my mother stay:
Thy form but seldom comes to bless my sleep.
Ye faithless slumbers, flit not thus away,
And leave my wistful eyes to wake and weep.

One can imagine the groaning of a child spurning his orphaned reality.

At age sixteen, he penned a masterpiece, “To a Field Flower.” He was fascinated by the rose and the tulip, but his adulation remained for the lingering primrose that withstood the choke of winter and beamed at the dawning spring:

Hail, lovely harbinger of spring!
Hail, little modest flower!
Fanned by the tempest’s icy wing
Dashed by the hoary shower.

Thy balmy breath, thy softened bloom,
Was ever welcome here;
But at this hour of wintry gloom,
Thy smile is doubly dear.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Passing and The Abiding

Joyce Meyer – Rest for the Weary

 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own  — 1 Corinthians 6:19

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

The first key to overcoming stress is to recognize or admit we are experiencing it, and look for the source of it.

There was a time in my life when I was constantly having headaches, backaches, stomach aches, neck aches, and all the other symptoms of stress, but I found it very difficult to admit I was pushing too hard physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I wanted to do all of the things I was doing and wasn’t willing to ask God what He wanted me to do. I was afraid that He would lead me to give up something I wasn’t ready to give up yet.

Although the Lord gives power to the faint and weary, if you are worn-out from continually exceeding your physical limitations, you will have stress.

Our bodies are the sanctuary (home) of God, and we are in disobedience when we push ourselves past God-ordained limitations and live in continual stress. We all have limits and we need to recognize what they are and eliminate excess stress from our lives.

If you wear out your body, you can’t go to a department store and purchase another one, so take care of the one you have!

Prayer Starter: Father, I lift my schedule and activities up to You. Show me areas where I need to change. Help me to do my part to eliminate stress and take care of my body, the temple of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for Your grace to change! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Is a Loving God

 

“If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, will he be given a stone instead? If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonous snake? Of course not! And if you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask Him for them?” (Matthew 7:9).

Roger interrupted our Bible study on this passage of Scripture to say, “I guess I have trouble believing God is a good God because my earthly father was a tyrant. He hated me, and I hated him. I do not recall a single experience in my life where he encouraged me. I want to believe that God is good, but I have difficulty. Please help me.”

Unfortunately, there are multitudes of men and women who are relatively new Christians and who have come from similar backgrounds where there was no love, no compassion, no concern, and their view of God is therefore distorted. They somehow equate the loving, forgiving God with their own tyrannical fathers. When such is the case, only the Holy Spirit can heal these deep wounds and remove these scars. So, I assigned Roger a special project. I asked him to make a list of all the attributes and qualities of God recorded from Genesis to Revelation. The project lasted several months, but in the process a transformation took place in Roger’s life.

The day came when he exclaimed with great joy, “The Holy Spirit has illumined my mind and taught me that God is truly a loving God, worthy of my trust. Now I can believe Him for anything. I know that even if my father on earth was the best father ever, God’s love, compassion and care for me transcends anything that he could do for me. Therefore, I can ask Him for good gifts, knowing that He will hear and answer me. I want to live only for His glory for the rest of my life.”

Are you having difficulty trusting God because of an unfortunate early relationship with your father or mother? If so, I encourage you to do what Roger did. Saturate your mind with the attributes of God – His love, sovereignty, wisdom, grace, compassion, power and holiness. As you do, the Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to cleanse your mind of all the memories that weigh you down, and you will be able to say with Roger, “I can trust God for anything, because I know He is a loving God who cares for me.”

Bible Reading:1 John 3:1-3

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will continue to meditate upon the attributes of God, knowing that the more I trust Him, the more sure I can be of His faithfulness to enable me to live a supernatural life for His glory.

 

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Charles Stanley –Our Steady Anchor

 

Hebrews 1:1-14

What do you do when the storms of life come? To whom do you turn? Where do you seek comfort and security during such tumultuous times?

Throughout our lives, these storms come and go unexpectedly, but they do not have to throw us off-balance. Scripture assures us that we can maintain a steady footing regardless of the circumstances. So how do we do this? There is an amazing truth in the Bible that will keep us steady during the most trying times. Our anchor for the storms of life is simply this: Jesus Christ never changes.

Why is this so vital, and what do we mean by an “anchor”? Consider that every single thing in your life—career, relationships, finances—is in a state of constant change. You yourself are aging and changing every minute of each day, and there is nothing you can do to stop this process. In fact, even the current heaven and earth will grow old and perish, and like a garment they will be changed (Revelation 21:1). Yet through it all, Christ remains the same.

If we try to hold tightly to any of these earthly things during our hardships, we will be tossed about in various directions since we’ve affixed ourselves to an unstable foundation that’s continually shifting. However, if we place our hope in Christ, we can be sure that the anchor will hold because He isn’t moving, changing, or leaving. In fact, Jesus Christ is the only sure footing in a world of movement, and He will steady all who trust in Him.

Bible in One Year: Revelation 9-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — When God Says No

 

Read: Isaiah 25:1–5 | Bible in a Year: Zechariah 9–12; Revelation 20

In perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1

When I was conscripted into the military at age eighteen, as all young Singaporean men are, I prayed desperately for an easy posting. A clerk or driver, perhaps. Not being particularly strong, I hoped to be spared the rigors of combat training. But one evening as I read my Bible, one verse leaped off the page: “My grace is sufficient for you . . .” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

My heart dropped—but it shouldn’t have. God had answered my prayers. Even if I received a difficult assignment, He would provide for me.

So I ended up as an armored infantryman, doing things I didn’t always enjoy. Looking back now, I’m grateful God didn’t give me what I wanted. The training and experience toughened me physically and mentally and gave me confidence to enter adulthood.

In Isaiah 25:1–5, after prophesying Israel’s punishment and subsequent deliverance from her enemies, the prophet praises God for His plans. All these “wonderful things,” Isaiah notes, had been “planned long ago” (v. 1), yet they included some arduous times.

It can be hard to hear God saying no, and even harder to understand when we’re praying for something good—like someone’s deliverance from a crisis. That’s when we need to hold on to the truth of God’s good plans. We may not understand why, but we can keep trusting in His love, goodness, and faithfulness.

Lord, give me the faith to keep trusting You even when You say no.

When God says no, He has a plan. Keep trusting Him!

By Leslie Koh

INSIGHT

Throughout Isaiah we see dark and dire prophecies interspersed with oases of hope. We may think these dramatically different sections contrast with each other—and they do—but they’re also complementary. Note how Isaiah 25 responds to previous pronouncements of judgment, which the prophet praises God for.

Chapter 24 declares that the entire earth will be devastated (vv. 1–3). Then it concludes by saying, “The Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory” (v. 23). This sets the stage for Isaiah 25. “In perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things,” says the prophet (v. 1). These things include God’s judgment: “You have made the city a heap of rubble” (v. 2). Because of the judgment, “strong peoples” will honor the Lord, and “cities of ruthless nations will revere you” (v. 3). Even God’s judgment draws His creation to Him.

Tim Gustafson

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – A Tempting Offer

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. — Matthew 4:1-2

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

After Jesus had gone through a 40-day fast, Satan approached Him with three tempting offers. The devil came to Jesus when he was weak and hungry.

It’s natural to assume that the Lord was physically weakened after being without nourishment for such an extended period of time, so, of course, the devil’s first offer involved food. If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [loaves of] bread (Matthew 4:3 AMPC).

Later Jesus performed several miracles that included food, such as changing a boy’s lunch into enough fish and bread to feed five thousand people and, at another time, to feed four thousand.

All of Jesus’ miracles were for the good of others. He never performed miracles for Himself or to satisfy any need of His own. That’s one major lesson we learn from His temptation.

The devil then took Jesus to a mountaintop and showed Him the nations of the earth. He said, in effect, “You can have it all in exchange for one slight, easily excusable act. Worship me—just once—and You can have it all.” I can even imagine the devil saying, “It’s all right; God will understand. You’re so weak right now.”

It was as if Satan said, “You’re going to rule it all anyway. This is just a shortcut.” He implied that through one simple act of worship, Jesus could avoid the rejection, the suffering, and even the horrifying death on the cross. And either way, He would achieve the same goal.

As attractive as the offer may have sounded, Jesus turned it down. He recognized the deliberately crafted lie, and Jesus never hesitated. The world would be won for God, but it would be won by the way of sacrifice and obedience. The way of the cross would be Jesus’ pathway to victory.

Again, Jesus teaches us that His is not the easy way. Instead, we must take the right way. Whenever the devil tries to convince us there is an easier way—one that will make life better for us—we know we don’t want to listen.

As we read the story, the choice seems obvious. But suppose you had been in that wilderness for 40 days and nights without food and water. Suppose you had faced such great temptations. Suppose the devil had whispered in your ear, “Just this one time and no one will know.”

This is one of the enemy’s most subtle lies. Not only does he tempt you to give in and to receive the things you’d like to have, but he also makes it sound simple and easy: “Just do this one thing, and it’s all yours.”

God never works that way. He wants you to have the best and only the best, but it has to come in the right way.

At the end of the temptation accounts, Matthew inserts a powerful statement. With each temptation, Jesus won because he relied on the Word of God for His strength. And the devil couldn’t fight the Word. Finally, Matthew records, Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11AMPC).

The wisdom to be gleaned from this experience is powerful. Even after you’ve been battered and tempted, God doesn’t leave you. He remains with you to comfort you, to minister to your needs, and to encourage you. Never forget that He is as close to you as the mention of His name. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Prayer Starter: Blessed Lord Jesus, thank You for winning the victory over the enemy. Thank You for not listening to Satan and for standing on the Word of God in the midst of every temptation. Lord, in Your name, I pray for the wisdom and the strength to defeat the same enemy when he tempts me. Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Tempted Like We Are

 

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV).

“In your opinion, who is the greatest person who ever lived, and who has done more good for mankind than anyone else who ever lived?” I asked a student who was both an atheist and a card-carrying Communist.

There was an awkward silence. Then finally came this reluctant reply, “I guess I would have to say Jesus of Nazareth.”

How could an atheist and a Communist, who had been reared in another religion, give such an answer?

Jesus has done more good for mankind than anyone else who has ever lived. He is the greatest person of the centuries, because it is a fact. Compare Jesus, even as a man, with any other person – Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, anyone else in any country at any time in history – and it would be like comparing a giant with a midget.

Though he lived 2,000 years ago and changed the course of history, though He was the greatest leader, the greatest teacher, the greatest example the world has ever known, He is infinitely more than these. He is God.

The omnipotent Creator God visited this little planet earth and became a man, the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. He was perfect God and perfect man, and as perfect man He understands our weaknesses, since He had the same temptations we do – though He never once gave way to them and sinned.

Do you believe that Jesus ever had the temptation to lie, to lust, to steal or to be immoral? Make a list of your temptations, all your weaknesses, all your failures, and then, as suggested in the verse following our reference, “Let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Bible Reading:Hebrews 2:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Since Jesus is my high priest and knows everything about me, having been tempted as I am and yet without sin, I will come boldly into His presence today and every day. I will come to receive His mercy and grace to live a supernatural life, which will enable me to live victoriously and to be fruitful for the glory and praise of His matchless name.

 

 

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Are the Investigations the Cover-Up?

What is the most effective way to hide the truth and protect the Deep-State criminals? It’s the never-ending Mueller investigation.

 

Those of us who have been paying attention know that serious crimes were committed at the highest levels of government in an attempt to exonerate Hillary Clinton and frame Donald Trump.  There was collusion between government agencies, including collusion with foreign agents, to illegally influence the 2016 Presidential election.  There is enough evidence on the table to be confident of these claims.

And those of us who care about rule of law, who want to see justice done to the criminals in this conspiracy, have been waiting for years to see that happen.  We hear that these serious matters are being investigated.  We hear that there are whistleblowers inside the government who want to come forward and expose the corruption.  We hear that there are many, many more documents which will substantiate our worst fears about one of the greatest scandals in the history of our country.

We have been assured that there are several investigations looking into the various aspect of this abuse of power.  Inspector General Michael Horowitz, prosecutor John Huber, and others are looking into the corruption.  Mueller is supposedly tasked with exposing foreign influence on the Presidential election.

But what if the ‘investigations’ are really the cover-up? What if the investigations are carefully structured to protect criminal actions rather than expose them? What if the investigations are actually being used to hide evidence from the citizenry?

Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe and others discussed the need for an “insurance policy” in case Trump won.  Was this “insurance policy” intended to protect deep-state criminals from exposure?  Mueller’s role is not to investigate collusion with foreign agents, or he would be investigating Christopher Steele and his Russian sources, along with the foreigners who worked with our government to infiltrate the Trump campaign.  He would investigate the illegal funding of Steele’s lies and how the lies were fed to the public by ‘bad cops’ and complicit media.  This is obviously not the goal of Mueller’s team.

Mueller’s key role is to have nearly absolute control over what information is released to investigators or the public.  Mueller determines what Horowitz and Huber can see. Mueller can hide anythinghe wants by claiming that release of the information would hinder his ‘investigation’.  He has given Rod Rosenstein a list of lines of inquiry that will not be allowed.  Rosenstein, who volunteered to be part of the soft coup, is happy to comply.  We have witnessed Rosenstein repeatedly refuse to turn over documents to Congress, flagrantly obstructing its oversight role.

What is the most effective way to hide the truth and protect the deep-state criminals? It’s the never-ending Mueller investigation.  Sure, Mueller’s team is still in the business of promoting the Trump-Russia fiction, but the most important role of this ‘investigation’ may be to obstruct any real investigation.

Conspiracy theories become conspiracy facts when enough evidence piles up to support the theory.  Consider this evidence, starting before the election:

  • Comey wrote a letter exonerating Hillary from her very intentional crimes long before she or key witnesses were interviewed.
  • Hillary’s key co-conspirators were given immunity, allowed to share attorneys, sit in on each other’s depositions, and even destroy evidence.  This was a sham investigation.
  • Hillary’s influence peddling through the Clinton Foundation was effectively swept under the rug.  The Clintons enriched themselves by selling future favors, often to foreign entities.  The foundation has been called “The Biggest Charity Fraud Ever”.
  • The Trump-Russia collusion narrative was developed as part of the effort to undermine Trump. It was not started by any actionable intelligence.  Spies were placed in the Trump campaign to aid the false narrative and to allow further illicit intelligence gathering.
  •  Spying on the Trump campaign was authorized by presenting fraudulent, hearsay evidence to FISA Court judges.  This criminal act led to many other criminal acts including rampant “unmasking” of American citizens associated with Trump.  Comey and Rosenstein both played roles in FISA abuse. White House officials did much of the unmasking.
  • On September 28, 2016, Peter Strzok texted Lisa Page that “hundreds of thousands” of email messages from Anthony Weiner’s computer had been turned over to the FBI by U.S. Attorneys who were conducting an investigation into Weiner’s sex crimes.  This was a treasure trove of information about Huma and Hillary.  The FBI immediately hid the information for a month while they figured out how to whitewash it to protect Hillary.  The bomb-control team successfully defused another bomb.  Surely, they expected a future reward from President H.R. Clinton.

Inspector General Horowitz’s June report had the goal of soft-peddling criminal behavior.  The report said that some unfortunate things were done, but there was no reason to think that bias played a key role in important decisions.  It did not find fault with things like granting immunity to the man who lied to the FBI and destroyed Hillary’s illegal server.  As we have learned, lying to the FBI can be fine, depending on who does the lying.  Destroying subpoenaed evidence is okay too, at times.

Horowitz’ public statement about his toothless report was followed by FBI Director Christopher Wray telling us not to worry about a thing because he intended to schedule a day when FBI agents would have a meeting to discuss bias.  Okay then — I guess that takes care of it.

Last year, when members of Congress were rightly frustrated about evidence being hidden, there were increasing calls for a special prosecutor to investigate surveillance abuses by the Obama administration, the shady Uranium One deal, and the Clinton Foundation’s influence peddling.  The idea of appointing a truly independent prosecutor was thwarted by Jeff Sessions, who appointed a career insider to do the investigation instead.  Sessions promised that an Obama holdover in Utah, John Huber, would do a “full, complete and objective evaluation of these matters.”

At this point, there is every reason to believe that the purpose of Huber’s investigation is to hide the truth, not to find it; to protect the criminals, not to charge them.   The key witnesses in each of the matters under investigation have not even been contacted.  It appears that no grand juries have been empaneled.  Tom Fitton, of Judicial Watch says, “Huber wasn’t tapped to investigate anything”, he was just “a distraction”.

What we are witnessing here is a carefully planned and orchestrated cover-up of a series of very serious crimes.  The deep swamp is pretending to investigate the deep swamp.

This cover-up would not be possible if the mainstream media were honest and aggressive fact-finders, but they actually function as a branch of the Democratic Party.  The cover-up would fail if Republicans were unified in absolutely demanding to see all the evidence that is currently being hidden, but Republican ‘leaders’ do not unify and fight hard for anything.  They appear to be comfortable with losing this battle.

Victors write the accepted history of events.  It is possible that the story here will be that good men like Strzok, Comey, Rosenstein, and Mueller protected America from a vast right-wing conspiracy.  Donald Trump, the victim of most of the crimes, will be portrayed as the villain.

By Bryce Buchanan

Source: Are the Investigations the Cover-Up?

 

 

Charles Stanley – The Real Heaven

 

Matthew 25:14-30

Trying to picture life in eternity, many people imagine lying around on clouds, strumming harps. I’m not sure how this misconception about heaven got started, but I can assure you that is unlikely. We have been gifted, equipped, and enabled to fulfill God’s purpose in this life. And He will still have a purpose for us in the life to come.

In today’s passage, Jesus described the kingdom of heaven in the context of a man giving his servants money to invest. The men who served their master faithfully were heartily congratulated and given greater responsibility. When we reach Christ’s judgment seat, our foremost reward will be to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:23 NIV). I can’t imagine words that could please me more than a commendation from the Savior I love above all.

We will also receive our new assignment in God’s heavenly kingdom. This is the part of the reward that corresponds to the words, “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” (v. 23). There will be no lazing about for us! We will have a renewed heaven and earth to live in and enjoy (2 Peter 3:13). In our perfected bodies, with hearts and souls attuned to the Lord, we will serve Him and each other.

God has a plan for every believer to pursue, and He has gifted each of His children specifically for that purpose. That plan requires our passion and motivation—on earth or in heaven. This world is our training ground for the greater life to come, so let’s prepare like good and faithful servants.

Bible in One Year: Revelation 5-8

 

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Our Daily Bread — Good Riddance Day

 

Read: Psalm 103:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Zechariah 5–8; Revelation 19

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Since 2006 a group of people have celebrated an unusual event around the New Year. It’s called Good Riddance Day. Based on a Latin American tradition, individuals write down unpleasant, embarrassing memories and bad issues from the past year and throw them into an industrial-strength shredder. Or some take a sledgehammer to their good riddance item.

The writer of Psalm 103 goes beyond suggesting that people say good riddance to unpleasant memories. He reminded us that God bids good riddance to our sins. In his attempt to express God’s vast love for His people, the psalmist used word pictures. He compared the vastness of God’s love to the distance between the heavens and the earth (v. 11). Then the psalmist talked about His forgiveness in spatial terms. As far as the place where the sun rises is from the place where the sun sets, so the Lord has removed His people’s sins from them (v. 12). The psalmist wanted God’s people to know that His love and forgiveness were infinite and complete. God freed His people from the power of their transgressions by fully pardoning them.

Continue reading Our Daily Bread — Good Riddance Day

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Life After Christmas

In the days following of Christmas, for many the mood is something like the brilliant lights we have just unplugged. Guests go home. Decorations come down. Celebrations cease. Life resumes with a little less fanfare perhaps. Poet W.H. Auden describes the letdown of Christmas almost too well—reminding me even of things I hadn’t considered until my five year old son collapsed into a pool of tears beside our Christmas tree, horizontally resting on the curb beside the trash bins. For my son as much as the poet, the dismantling of Christmas is a lamentable affair:

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,

Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes…

There are enough left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week—

Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,

Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—

To love all of our relatives, and in general

Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again

As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed

To do more than entertain it as an agreeable

Possibility, once again we have sent Him away…

The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,

And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware

Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension…(1)

For Auden, in the days after Christmas, we step down from the heights of the holiday and along with our colored lights return to dimmer realities: daily life and its monotony, despairing headlines, another year of wearisome failures, blind spots, and missteps. Writing in 1942, Auden’s sense of the dismal reality of life after Christmas was likely heightened by the uncertainties of war and the certainty of violence. For many, Christmas indeed serves as a moment of respite in the midst of harsher realities that promise to recommence. Still for others, the season itself is disheartening and the aftermath is more of the same. Regardless, the picture W.H. Auden paints is one in which many can enter—at five or ninety-five.

Yet Auden’s attempt to describe life after Christmas is far more than an offer of depressing poetry. Auden reminds us that we come down from the heights of Christmas in order to embrace again the world in all of its brokenness and finitude, in order to receive the Child whose arrival was not marked by lights and decoration but the slaughter of the innocents at Herod’s orders and a few witnesses in an unknown stable. Auden reminds us that the time after Christmas is the time when Christ can step into the thick of our lives as he intended. Writes Auden:

To those who have seen

The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,

The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.

The countercultural Christmas story that sits at the heart of all our holiday efforts begs us to see it as far more than a peak event in December. Christmas is an annual reminder on the church calendar that God is on the move and was on the move long before we knew it. In fact, it was precisely into our dismal, empty, post-festive reality that the Child came near in the first place.

In the bleak moments of late winter, Christmas is not anti-climactic; it confronts us all the more. It is our startling reminder that God has not forgotten, though in the thick of our empty routines, despairing headlines, and blinding self-interest we may forget the Child. Yet here, in the quiet and empty days after celebrations have ceased, the sights and sounds of the human God among us can better be noticed and more authentically received. If Advent brings the world’s attention to the sounds of one who stands at the door and knocks, and Christmas marks the culmination of that knocking in the cry of a newborn king, then the days thereafter usher us further into the presence of a God who not only knocks and draws near, but has opened wide the doors of heaven and calls us further into the kingdom where God himself wipes away every tear.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) W.H. Auden, Collected Poems, ed. Edward Mendelson (New York: Random House, 1991), 399.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Best

 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. — James 1:17

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

You were created to have a deep, intimate, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the very best life He came to offer.

Acts 10:34 (AMPC) says, God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons. This means His promises apply equally to everyone who follows Him.

Yes, you can have the very best God offers, but you can’t give up when times get tough. If you’ll trust God and follow Him wholeheartedly, you will discover your best life in Him.

God has a great purpose for you, and I urge you not to settle for anything less. He wants to bless you and give you a life that will not only thrill you, fulfill you, and bring you deep joy and sweet satisfaction but also challenge you, stretch you and help you discover that, in Christ, you’re stronger than you think.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I want every good thing You have for my life! Help me to persevere through life’s difficulties and seek You with my whole heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praying for Results

 

“Ask and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will be open” (Matthew 7:7,8).

We were conducting a Bible study on the subject of prayer when Amy, a professing Christian most of her life, said, “God never answers my prayers. In fact, I cannot recall a single prayer of mine that God has answered specifically.”

Several others in the group chimed in and said, “Neither can I.” So we turned to this passage and discussed it together. Would God lie to us? Is His Word trustworthy? Or is prayer an exercise in futility? Are we simply talking to ourselves and each other, or is there a God who hears and answers? If so, why have these not had their prayers answered?

First of all, we had to review the qualifications for prayer. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me and My Word abides in you, ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.” The Scripture also says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” So if we expect to have our prayers answered, Jesus Christ must be the Lord of our lives. There must be no unconfessed sin in our lives and we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Further, 1 John 5:14,15 reminds us: “If we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us and answers,” so we must be sure that we are praying according to the Word of God. As we pray, the Spirit of God impresses upon us certain things for which to pray specifically, such as the salvation of a friend, the healing of a body or a financial need. If the prayer is offered with a pure motive and according to God’s will, we can expect an answer to it.

And we cannot pray casually. We must enter into an expectant spirit of prayer, knowing that, when we meet His conditions, God will hear and answer us.

Within a matter of weeks everyone in that Bible study, especially Amy, was inspired by the exciting challenge of prayer. God had truly heard, and again and again, they were able to point to specific answers.

Bible Reading:Luke 11:5-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall review my spiritual walk to be sure I am meeting God’s conditions: (1) Christ is Lord of my life. (2) I am filled with the Holy Spirit. (3) There is no unconfessed sin in my life. (4) I am praying according to God’s Word. And (5) I am praying specifically. As a result, I expect my prayers to be answered because God promises they will be.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Change the Way You Sing

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness. . .”  As we behold him, we become like him.

It’s a principle I experienced first-hand when an opera singer visited our church.  You wouldn’t have known by his appearance.  But you could by his voice. He tried to contain himself, but how can a tuba hide in a room of piccolos?  I was startled…inspired…emboldened by his volume!  I lifted mine.  Did I sing better?  No, but did I try harder?  No doubt.  His power brought out the best in me.  Could your world use a little music?  If so, invite heaven’s baritone, Jesus Christ, to cut loose.  Who knows?  A few songs with him might change the way you sing!

Read more Next Door Savior

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Veteran visits wife’s grave over 1,300 times

Ted Richardson is a ninety-three-year-old veteran. He and Florence met as teens, then he left to serve as a Marine in World War II. But he took her picture with him everywhere he went.

They got married after the war. Ted says Florence always took care of him–for seventy-two years. So, now it’s his turn to take care of her.

Ted visits his wife’s grave six days a week, without fail, taking three buses to get there. He cares for it meticulously, trimming weeds and brushing away leaves. He has already arranged for his church to bring flowers to Florence’s grave after he dies.

He has already visited over 1,300 times. He says it’s worth it to be close to the love of his life.

Adversity is opportunity

As you look back over 2018, what events come to mind?

If you’re like most of us, your challenges and problems loom large. If someone you loved passed away, their death marked your life.

History feels the same way. When we think of David, Goliath is followed immediately by Bathsheba. Our first thought about Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy is usually their assassination.

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Charles Stanley – Our Heavenly Appointment

 

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Each tick of the clock brings us a second closer to our heavenly appointment with the Lord Jesus. As believers in Christ, we will one day stand before Him, answerable for how we lived our life. At that time we will be held accountable for our actions and recompensed for the choices we made while on earth, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

This is not a judgment of condemnation. At salvation, when we acknowledged Christ as our Savior, all blame was removed from us (Rom. 8:1). In taking our place on the cross, Jesus experienced the wrath of God against our iniquity (1 Peter 2:24). As a result, the penalty for our sin has been fully paid.

When we stand before our Lord, He’ll look to see which of our choices were in keeping with His will. Every act of obedient service, whether large or small, will be remembered and rewarded. At the same time, I believe there will be tears when our selfishness and unrighteousness are considered.

Colossians 3 gives us a picture of who we should be and how God wants us to live: Our minds are to be focused on things above, not earthly matters (Col. 3:2). And we’re to get rid of anger, malice, and slander, clothing ourselves instead with compassion, kindness, and patience (Col. 3:8; Col. 3:12).

Since the Lord holds us accountable for our actions, it is urgent that we replace ungodly patterns with righteous ways. Both inward attitudes and outward behavior matter to Him. When facing decisions each day, seek scriptural guidance and godly counsel. Then reflect on which choices would please God.

Bible in One Year: Revelation 1-4

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Highest Place

 

Read: Colossians 1:15–23 | Bible in a Year: Zechariah 1–4; Revelation 18

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

My husband invited a friend to church. After the service his friend said, “I liked the songs and the atmosphere, but I don’t get it. Why do you give Jesus such a high place of honor?” My husband then explained to him that Christianity is a relationship with Christ. Without Him, Christianity would be meaningless. It’s because of what Jesus has done in our lives that we meet together and praise Him.

Who is Jesus and what has He done? The apostle Paul answered this question in Colossians 1. No one has seen God, but Jesus came to reflect and reveal Him (v. 15). Jesus, as the Son of God, came to die for us and free us from sin. Sin has separated us from God’s holiness, so peace could only be made through someone perfect. That was Jesus (vv. 14, 20). In other words, Jesus has given us what no one else could—access to God and eternal life (John 17:3).

Why does He deserve such a place of honor? He conquered death. He won our hearts by His love and sacrifice. He gives us new strength every day. He is everything to us!

We give Him the glory because He deserves it. We lift Him up because that is His rightful place. Let’s give Him the highest place in our hearts.

Jesus, You are my Savior and my Lord, and I want to give You the highest place of honor in my life.

Read God at the Center at discoveryseries.org/hp152.

Jesus is the center of our worship.

By Keila Ochoa

INSIGHT

The New Testament concept of “image” (Colossians 1:15) involves three things: “exact likeness” (2 Corinthians 4:4 nlt), “exact representation” (Hebrews 1:3), and complete revelation (John 1:18). Man is created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), but Jesus “is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The writer of Hebrews says the Son “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (1:3) or “expresses the very character of God” (nlt). Jesus in His very essence and nature is God (Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5–6). The apostle John (John 1:18) says Jesus “has made [God] known” (niv) or “has explained Him” to us (nasb).

  1. T. Sim

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Garden in the Snow

The first Christmas after my father passed away, I remember sitting in my parents’ home on Christmas eve, wanting to have some time alone to think about my dad. Being the father of a young family myself, it had a been a day full of frantic activity getting ready for Christmas. Christmas music was playing, sweet and savory aromas of cooking and baking were wafting from the kitchen, and our children were chasing each other throughout the house. So many signs of life surrounded me. Yet, I could not shake the reality of a profound absence. My father was not there.

I decided to go for a walk. It was a cold December evening and a thin layer of frost covered the sidewalks. With each step there was a crunch and crackle that came from the ground. As I walked I wanted to speak thoughts about my dad that I had not said, but I just did not know how to say the words. I wanted to talk to my dad. I wanted him to be there with me. Without thinking, I began speaking in a quiet voice to my dad. “I miss you, Dad.” I continued. “I bet that if you were home right now, you would probably be out here walking with me, hey?” Then it just flowed naturally. “Dad, you would be so happy if you were here. You would love seeing all the kids. And I know you would look after the hot apple cider!”

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