Charles Stanley – Become Slaves of Righteousness

 

Romans 6:15-23

What comes to mind when you hear the word freedom? It’s usually associated with the right to live as we please and to pursue ambitions and dreams. But in reality, living for self is never freedom. When Paul said, “You are slaves of the one whom you obey” (Rom. 6:16), he was pointing out we have a choice of either sin or righteousness. So if we aren’t living for Christ, we’ll find ourselves enslaved to sinful desires, habits, attitudes, and thoughts.

God wants to free us from every form of bondage that prevents us from becoming the person He created us to be. This kind of freedom is not achieved by war but by the knowledge of truth and submission to Christ.

If you’re having trouble overcoming a particular sin despite repeated confession and repentance, there may be an underlying root fueling that sin. It doesn’t matter how many times you cut off the sinful fruit; if the root remains, it’ll produce a new poisonous outgrowth. And at times those roots spring from harmful emotions like anger, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, or worry.

Instead of allowing such emotions to control us, we must let God’s truths fill our mind and influence our behavior. When we were saved, Christ freed us from the dominion of sin and gave us His Spirit to empower us to live righteously. On top of that, God has given us a new nature created in Christ’s likeness (Eph. 4:24). Therefore, we’re to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to Christ (Rom. 6:11) and should present ourselves to God for obedience (Rom. 6:13). Remember, God has given us everything we need to live righteously for Him, so believers are never helpless victims of sin.

Bible in One Year: 2 Corinthians 5-8

 

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Our Daily Bread — Thanks for Being You!

 

Read: Psalm 100 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 45–46; 1 John 2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Psalm 100:4

When I served as my mom’s live-in caregiver at a cancer center, I got to know Lori, another caregiver who lived down the hallway from us with her husband, Frank. I would chat, laugh, vent, cry, and pray with Lori in the shared living areas. We enjoyed supporting each other as we cared for our loved ones.

One day, I missed the free shuttle that took residents to buy groceries. Lori offered to drive me to the store later that evening. With grateful tears, I accepted her offer. “Thanks for being you,” I said. I truly appreciated her for who she was as a person, not just for what she did for me as a friend.

Psalm 100 demonstrates an appreciation of God for who He is, not simply for all He does. The psalmist invites “all the earth” (v. 1) to “worship the Lord with gladness” (v. 2), being confident in knowing “the Lord is God” (v. 3). Our Maker invites us into His presence to “give thanks to him and praise his name” (v. 4). Yes, the Lord remains worthy of our ongoing thankfulness because He “is good,” His “love endures forever,” and His “faithfulness continues through all generations” (v. 5).

God will always be the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and our intimately loving Father. He deserves our genuine joy-filled gratitude.

Lord, thanks for being You!

Who can you share God’s love with today?

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

Psalm 100 echoes the words of Psalm 95. Both begin with an appeal to shout for joy and together call for a resounding celebration in song to the God of gods, Yahweh. This personal name of Israel’s God is translated in English versions as Lord.

But beyond their similarities, the two songs tell a different story. While Psalm 95 attempts to rouse a nation that has lost its joy (vv. 7–11), Psalm 100 invites the whole earth to erupt in shouts of praise and songs of mirth. At least fourteen times the songwriter of Psalm 100 points to this God of gods by name or pronoun. With every line the psalmist invites people of all nations to enter into the presence of One who is infinitely more to be praised than was seen in the lagging joy of His dearly loved and chosen people.

Mart DeHaan

 

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Keep Walking on the Water!

And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00-6:00 a.m.) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!” Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.” — Matthew 14:25-28 (AMP)

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

Let’s focus for a moment on this part of a well-known New Testament story. The disciples were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee at night when they looked up and saw Jesus walking on the water. That is amazing, but as the story continues, Matthew wrote of the boisterous winds, yet Jesus kept walking on top of the waves.

The disciples were afraid—and that makes sense. Who would expect to see anyone walking on top of the water, even under the best of conditions?

Then Jesus cried out and told them, “Take courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!”(Matthew 14:27 AMP). This is the powerful moment in the story. What will happen now? Do they move over and give Jesus a place to sit in their boat? Should they get out and join Him on the waves? Do they huddle in fear, reminding themselves that human beings can’t walk on top of water?

Peter was the only one who responded in true faith. And let’s make no mistake here. For Peter to say, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water” (Matthew 14:28 AMP) was a tremendous act of faith. You’ll notice that he was the only one who spoke that way.

That was a powerful moment of faith. It was a defining moment that pointed out Peter’s great faith and belief in Jesus, the Anointed One of God. He was so convinced that Jesus truly was the Son of God that he was ready to get out of the boat and walk on top of the water with Him.

How many of you would get out of the boat? I emphasize this because it would be easy enough to say, “Lord, I see You walking on the water, and I believe I could walk on the water alongside You.” But would you? Do you have the kind of faith that would enable you to step out of the boat? Of the 12 disciples, Peter was the only one who took that step of faith.

I’m not citing this example of faith to discourage you or to make you feel that your faith is somehow lacking. I’m simply pointing out the great triumph of a man who dared to believe! Peter believed so strongly that he took a step of faith over the side of the boat and started walking toward Jesus.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – Keep Walking on the Water!

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Recipe for Growth

 

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2, KJV).

Sam was very impatient with himself. Though he was a new Christian, he could not understand why he was not as spiritual as some of the other students who had walked with the Lord for several years.

I explained to him the Christian life, like physical life, involves a process of growth. A person begins as a baby and goes through various stages of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood to reach Christian maturity. Very few, if any, Christians, I explained to him, become spiritually mature overnight.

Lane Adams, a beloved colleague, gifted teacher, preacher and author, said, “I shrink inside when I think of the times I have mounted the pulpit, recited the conversion experience of the apostle Paul, and then indicated that he went out and turned the world upside down for Jesus Christ immediately.”

He continued, “This simply was not the case. There is a difference of opinion among scholars concerning New Testament dating, but it seems rather plain that many years went by before the Holy Spirit laid the dramatic burden on Paul as a missionary of the cross.”

If you strongly desire to serve the Lord in some particular way, such as teaching, ask the Holy Spirit in faith to empower you to become an effective teacher. Now, it may be that the Holy Spirit will see fit to make you a great teacher overnight, but this is most unlikely. So if it does not happen, do not be discouraged. Have faith!

Continue to ask and believe that the Holy Spirit will make you an effective teacher of the Word of God and be willing to work hardand long to develop your natural ability. The Bible reminds us that “faith without works is useless.”

If we are unique members of the Body of Christ, and we are, if we possess special tasks to accomplish, and we do, then the Holy Spirit will empower us to carry out those tasks. God does indeed have a plan for each of our lives. And He gives us the direction and power of His Holy Spirit to accomplish that plan as we continue to trust and obey Him.

Bible Reading:2 Peter 3:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Recognizing that I am in the process of maturing spiritually, I shall seek to accelerate my spiritual growth by hiding the Word of God in my heart, spending time in prayer, walking in the Spirit and sharing my faith in Christ with others as a way of life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Let the Sleigh Bells Ring!

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Let the sleigh bells ring!  I love Christmas!  Let the carolers sing.  The more Santas the merrier.  I don’t complain about the crowded shops.  I don’t grumble at the jam-packed grocery store.  Well—it’s Christmas.

I love it because someone will ask the Christmas questions.  What’s the big deal about the baby in the manger?  Who was he?  What does his birth have to do with me?  The questioner may be a soldier stationed far from home.  She may be a young mom who, for the first time, holds a child on Christmas Eve.  The Christmas season prompts Christmas questions and answers.

Because of Bethlehem, God is always near us.  Always for us.  Always in us.  We may forget Him, but God will never forget us.  He called Himself “Immanuel”—God with us!

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – George H. W. Bush’s last words

This is the end of an amazing life.” So said Neil Bush when his father, President George H. W. Bush, passed away Friday night at his home in Houston.

Mr. Bush had been dealing with numerous health issues over recent years. In his last hours, he was asked if he wanted to go to the hospital. He declined, saying that he was ready to go and be with Barbara, his wife of seventy-three years, and their late daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three.

Mr. Bush had rallied Friday morning but declined quickly that evening. His children around the country were notified. George W. Bush called from Dallas, telling him he had been a “wonderful dad” and that he loved him.

I love you, too,” Mr. Bush told his son.

The New York Times reports that they were his last words. I disagree.

The youngest pilot in the Navy

George Herbert Walker Bush was the last US president to have served in combat. He and his wife hold the record for the longest marriage in presidential history.

He enlisted in the armed forces on his eighteenth birthday. The youngest pilot in the Navy when he got his wings, he flew fifty-eight combat missions during the Second World War. On one mission over the Pacific, he was shot down and rescued by a US submarine.

After a successful career in the oil industry, he turned to public service. He was elected to two terms in the House of Representatives, then served as Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chief of the US Liaison office in the People’s Republic of China, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, vice president, and president.

Continue reading Denison Forum – George H. W. Bush’s last words