Charles Stanley – Giving and Receiving Exhortation

 

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Most of us are much more willing to receive instruction from our pastors than from fellow members of the congregation. Yet today’s passage gives us some surprising advice regarding how a church is to operate.

First of all, we are told to appreciate and esteem our leaders who have charge over us in the Lord. They are our shepherds, who feed us with the Word of God and care for our spiritual health and growth.

However, this passage also describes the responsibilities we have to admonish, encourage, and help one another in the church. We are not just spectators but are told to be actively involved in helping each other grow in the faith. Therefore, let’s consider some ways we can do this:

See God’s presence in difficulties. When we come alongside fellow believers, we can help them lift their focus from their circumstances and begin to view their trials as opportunities for spiritual pruning, growth, and discovery.

Become personally involved. Exhortation is best received through face-to-face meetings because the other person sees our care and concern. Furthermore, when we observe his or her response, the insight we gain helps us to understand the heart issues and perceive which biblical principles to apply.

Be teachable. In helping others grow toward spiritual maturity, we too must be willing to make changes in our own life, because we can’t pass wisdom on to others unless we’re pursuing it ourselves.

We’ve been entrusted with these responsibilities. Therefore, we must ground ourselves in scriptural truth so we can give wise guidance to others.

Bible in One Year: Galatians 1-3

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Hand Up

 

Read: Ecclesiastes 4:8–12 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 1–2; 1 John 4

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:10

My children have enjoyed the thrill of a backyard ice-skating rink during our cold Idaho winters. When they were young, learning to skate was challenging: persuading them to deliberately set foot on the hard, icy surface proved difficult because they knew the pain of falling. Each time their feet slid out from under them, my husband or I would reach out to pull them again to their feet, setting them upright and steadying their frames.

Having someone there to help us up when we fall is the gift of a helping hand depicted in Ecclesiastes. Working with another makes our work sweeter and more effective (4:9), and a friend brings warmth to our lives. When we encounter challenges, it helps to have someone come alongside with practical and emotional support. These relationships can give us strength, purpose, and comfort.

When we find ourselves flattened on the cold ice of life’s hardships, is there a helping hand nearby? If so, it might be from God. Or when someone else needs a friend, could we be God’s answer to lift them up? In being a companion, we often find one. If it appears that no one is nearby to lift us to our feet again, we can find comfort in knowing that God is our ever-present help (Psalm 46:1). As we reach out to Him, He’s ready to steady us with His firm grip.

Thank You, Father, for helping me up when life knocks me down. Thank You for the people You’ve used to encourage and strengthen me. Yours is the most faithful friendship I have.

How can you open yourself more fully to God’s presence in your life?

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

The author of Ecclesiastes (“the Teacher,” 1:1–2) is in the midst of a long lament about the meaninglessness of living for this world only. This particular section concerns a lonely rich man the Teacher has observed. Perhaps he has trampled all others on his way to the top. (Think of Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge.) Regardless of how the man got there, the author recognizes the futility of such efforts and concludes, “Two are better than one” (4:9).

Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Teacher’s larger point is that living with an earthbound view is cruelly dissatisfying. We toil and strive, yet we remain haunted by a vague sense that we’re missing something. As with all Scripture, Ecclesiastes must be understood within the context of the entire Bible. The early church fathers Jerome (ad347–420) and Ambrose (ad 340–397) were among the first to note that the companion we’re missing is Christ Himself.

Tim Gustafson

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Nativity Scenes

A general position on December birthdays (particularly for those of us who hold them) seems to be that its proprietors are easily neglected. We are over-shadowed by Christmas decorations in November and over-looked in December by relatives busy with Christmas errands and office parties. And yet, I suspect that others, like me, have always secretly loved it. In the season of our births, the world was awake, decking the halls, and a great number of them were looking to the birth of another infant. The spirit of Christmas seems a part of our own, the birth of Christ reminding us each year that we, too, were born, that we were fragile, that we were held. For those born in December (and for any who remember their own beginnings in the scenes of Advent), the season offers a time of contemplating infantile beginnings, a lesson in what it means to be human like no other. Stories and celebrations of one’s birth are juxtaposed with a nativity story told long before we were born and one that will continue to be told long after us.

In fact, the story of Christianity is a story filled with nativity scenes. In these stories, we find a God present before we have accomplished anything and longing to gather us long before we know it is happening. Thus David can pray, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” And God can say to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” And those who witnessed the miracle of Elizabeth and Zechariah can rightly exclaim God’s hand upon the child before that child could say his own name: “The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him.”(1)

In a world where significance and identity are earned by what we do, by what we have accomplished, by what we own, by what we earn, and Christmas is about the lines we fought, the lists we finished, the gifts we were able to secure, the kingdom of God arrives scandalously, jarringly—even offensively—into our captive and often content lives. In this kingdom, a person’s value begins before she has said or done the right things, before he has accumulated the right lifestyle, or even made the right lists. In this kingdom, God not only uses children in the story of salvation, not only calls us to embrace the kingdom as little children, but so the very God of creation steps into the world as a child.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Nativity Scenes

Joyce Meyer – Let Go of All Anger

 

Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness]. — Ephesians 4:26-27 (AMP)

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

Everyone has anger from time to time, and understanding it and knowing how to handle it properly is important. Anger begins as a feeling and then manifests itself in words and actions.

You feel something, and it causes you to do or say something. Anger is not necessarily always sin; however, what you choose to do with anger directly determines your quality of life.

All anger has the same effect on your life. It upsets you, causing you to feel pressure. Keeping anger locked inside can even be dangerous to your health. So, you must take responsibility for your anger and learn to deal with it.

If you struggle with anger, ask God to help you process it and bring it to closure. You can be bitter or better—the choice is yours!

Prayer Starter: Father, You know everything about me. I ask for Your help to recognize and deal with any unresolved anger in my life. Help me to get to the root of the issues and learn to deal with my emotions in a godly way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fishers of Men

 

“And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, KJV).

Each morning I kneel to acknowledge Christ’s lordship of my life and ask Him to have complete, unhindered control of my life for that day, to walk around in my body, to think with my mind, to love with my heart, to speak with my lips and to continue seeking and saving the lost through me.

Sometime ago I was at a conference in a midwestern city, anticipating an early adjournment so that I could catch a plane to Los Angeles and rejoin my waiting family.

When I arrived at the airport, I discovered that flight after flight had been cancelled because of poor weather conditions. Rushing from one airline ticket counter to another, I hoped to find one that was still flying its planes. Finally, to my disappointment, I had discovered that all the airlines had cancelled their flights.

On one hand I was discouraged, but on the other I was encouraged by the promise of the Bible, “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans” (Romans 8:28, LB).

Back at the hotel for the night, in the lobby I met a businessman who was hungry for God. As I shared Christ with him, I learned that he and his wife had been visiting a different church every Sunday for the past couple of years. They were looking for God but had not been able to find Him.

I explained to my new friend how to receive Christ. Together, we knelt and prayed, and he received Christ into his life as his personal Lord and Savior.

With great joy and enthusiasm my new brother in Christ announced, “I want to take these things to my wife because she too is eager to receive Christ.” It is our responsibility to follow Christ. It is His responsibility to make us fishers of men.

Bible Reading:Matthew 4:18-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I follow Christ today, I will recognize that even the delays, hindrances and closed doors may well be opportunities for me to share my faith in Jesus Christ. I shall remember, with God’s help, to share Him with others at every opportunity.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Immanuel, God with Us

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In Matthew 1:23, God called himself, “Immanuel”—which means, God with us!  Not just “God made us” or “God thinks about us.”  Not just “God above us.”  But God with us…God where we are.  He breathed our air and walked this earth. God. . .with. . .us!

Bethlehem was just the beginning.  Jesus has promised a repeat performance. Bethlehem, Act Two.  No silent night this time, however.  The skies will open, trumpets will blast, and a new kingdom will begin.  He will empty the tombs and melt the winter of death.  Death, you die!  Life, you reign!

The manger dares us to believe the best is yet to be.  I love Christmas because it reminds us how God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – One hero salutes another: A video I hope you’ll see

Throngs of people streamed into the Capitol Rotunda yesterday to spend a moment before the flag-draped casket of President George H. W. Bush. Among them was Sen. Bob Dole.

While serving in the Army during World War II, Dole was badly wounded by German machine gun fire. He never regained use of his right arm; his left arm is minimally functional. Nonetheless, he went on to serve Kansas in Congress from 1961 to 1996 and run for president in 1996 as the Republican nominee.

Now ninety-five years old, he is confined to a wheelchair. But he wanted to pay his respects to President Bush, so aides helped him stand. He then used his left hand to salute the casket.

It was one hero saluting another. I hope you’ll watch the now-viral video.

“Your success is now our country’s success”

Today has been designated a day of mourning for President George H. W. Bush. His remains are lying in state at the US Capitol this morning. His son, President George W. Bush, will deliver the eulogy at Washington National Cathedral later today.

Many are mourning the passing not just of a great man but also of the civility he represented. Consider one example of his gracious spirit.

In 1989, President Reagan left a humorous note for his successor in the drawer of his Oval Office desk. In 1993, after a bitterly fought presidential campaign, President Bush left a letter in the desk for the man who defeated him, cementing a tradition that has continued to this day.

Here is what he wrote:

“Dear Bill,

“When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

Continue reading Denison Forum – One hero salutes another: A video I hope you’ll see