Charles Stanley – A Revolutionary Announcement

 

Acts 2:37-47

Familiarity sometimes robs us of awe and wonder, and this is true of both simple and profound events in life. As Christians, we are familiar with the idea of Jesus’ resurrection, but can you imagine the impact it had on those who first heard about it?

When Peter gave his first sermon, he boldly declared, “You … put Him to death. But God raised Him up again” (Acts 2:23-24). Imagine what a revolutionary statement that was. The assembled crowd knew of Jesus and the miracles He’d performed, and some may even have joined in shouting, “Crucify Him!” (Matt. 27:22). Yet here was one of Jesus’ own followers claiming that the Christ couldn’t be held by death’s power.

Some may have considered the disciples’ early accounts of the resurrection to be idle tales, but Pentecost changed all that when God visited mankind in a way He never had before. The crowd witnessed something historic as each person heard the gospel in his or her own language (Acts 2:8-11).

Faith took root in 3,000 repentant hearts when the message of the Lord’s death and resurrection was preached. Those new believers were baptized as a public statement of their trust in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior, who died to pay the penalty for their sins.

The revolution sparked by the Holy Spirit that day spread across the world and into the modern era, transforming individuals and the cultures in which they lived. Today the task of proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus falls to us. As with the first church, we can trust the Lord to add to our number those who are being saved.

Bible in One Year: Galatians 4-6

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Lonely Christmas

 

Read: Psalm 25:14–22 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 3–4; 1 John 5

My eyes are ever on the Lord. Psalm 25:15

The loneliest Christmas I ever spent was in my grandfather’s cottage near Sakogu, northern Ghana. I was just fifteen, and my parents and siblings were a thousand kilometers away. In previous years, when I’d been with them and my village friends, Christmas was always big and memorable. But this Christmas was quiet and lonely. As I lay on my floor mat early Christmas morning, I remembered a local song: The year has ended; Christmas has come; the Son of God is born; peace and joy to everybody. Mournfully, I sang it over and over.

My grandmother came and asked, “What song is that?” My grandparents didn’t know about Christmas—or about Christ. So I shared what I knew about Christmas with them. Those moments brightened my loneliness.

Alone in the fields with only sheep and occasional predators, the shepherd boy David experienced loneliness. It would not be the only time. Later in his life he wrote, “I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16). But David didn’t allow loneliness to cause him to be despondent. Instead, he sang: “My hope, Lord, is in you” (v. 21).

From time to time we all face loneliness. Wherever Christmas may find you this year, in loneliness or in companionship, you can enjoy the season with Christ.

Lord, thank You that with You I’m not alone even in my times of loneliness. This Christmas, help me to enjoy my fellowship with You and to reach out to others.

With Jesus at Christmas, we’re never alone.

By Lawrence Darmani

INSIGHT

Psalm 25 is a prayer for and celebration of God’s guidance—extended to anyone willing to humbly learn from Him (vv. 5, 8–9, 12). Even the structure of this psalm as an acrostic poem (each line sequentially following the Hebrew alphabet) reinforces this emphasis on learning from God, since the structure was often chosen for its helpfulness in memorization.

The psalm’s theme of worship as a lifestyle of learning from God is also captured by the words “put my trust” in verse 1—more literally, “lift up my soul” (nrsv; “soul” referring to all of oneself, both body and spirit). The image, alluding to the worship posture of uplifted hands, offers a beautiful picture of walking with God: we honestly lift up before Him all of ourselves and our struggles, while continually waiting with open, trusting hands to receive all we need from our loving, gracious God (vv. 15–18, 20–21).

Monica Brands

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Festivals of Want

 

In many ways our society is motivated by consumption. Our desire to have stuff charts the course of many of our pursuits and without such desire the economy would no doubt collapse. Yet reflect for a moment on how pervasive this is in our lives.

We have festivals of consumption. Every Easter and Christmas we have special rituals. Sale signs go up all around us, the good news of great deals is announced on television, and all are invited to join in the worship of consumption. So where do we go? To the temples of consumption: the malls and car dealerships and super-sized department stores. These centers provide an opportunity to find whatever we seek at a price we can afford, as we are invited to take the waiting out of wanting.

All the while, the atmosphere is tailored so that we are comfortable. The commercials and displays are attractive and compelling and it is all so much fun. We are soothed by a background of ambient music and stimulated by the smells of freshly ground coffee or freshly baked cookies.

To take it further, we even sing the songs of consumption, as we memorize our favorite commercials and slogans. I can still hear the sounds of the Rice Krispies commercials from my childhood in Scotland. Today it is probably a cosmetics commercial or a car commercial.

We buy and sell and work all day so that we can have these things, which, once we have them, keep us working even harder to maintain the lifestyle we have achieved. We go to school so we can get good jobs. We send our kids through school so they can get out and make money to have nice things. But do we ever stop to ask, “Why?”

Now I’m exaggerating I realize, but there is some substance to what I’m pointing out. There is a story of Jacob and Esau in the Old Testament that might apply. Esau was very much a man of the field, a man of the world. One day, after finding no satisfaction in his search for something to consume, he sold his birthright to his younger brother for nothing more than a bowl of stew. The birthright was supposed to be a cherished thing. It represented the dignity, inheritance, and leadership that would come to its beneficiary in the future. But Esau saw neither sense nor value in waiting for the future. He was hungry and he wanted what he wanted now. And so he gave away what should have been the most important thing to him in order to feed his desire.

“How senseless,” we might say of this story. Yet we do the very same thing when we spend our time in pursuit of what we want right now at the expense of what is lasting. Jesus said it simply: What does it profit you if you gain the whole world and yet lose your soul? The Christian season of Advent is the season of waiting, fittingly arriving during this season of rush and want. Waiting is hard, and yet it can be a hopeful gift for a world consumed. Amidst our festivals of distraction and impatience, Advent is an invitation to turn to the God who did not remain distant from our situation but stepped right into the midst of it to give us what we needed most.

Stuart McAllister is global support specialist at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Think Positively

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. — Philippians 4:8

Adapted from the resource The Confident Women Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I once interviewed a minister and his wife on our ministry’s television program. I asked the man what his weaknesses were. His answer: “You know, I don’t concentrate on them. I am sure I have some, but I couldn’t tell you right now what they are because I just don’t focus on them.”

I laughingly replied that I would ask his wife later. I was sure she would know his weaknesses, even if he didn’t. When she joined us later in the broadcast, I promptly popped that question to her. She replied, “To me, my husband is perfect; I don’t focus on his weaknesses. He has so many strengths that I just focus on them and help him be all he can be.”

It didn’t take me long to understand why these two were so happy and upbeat all the time—and why they had such a wonderful marriage. Confident people make it a habit to think and act positively. Therefore, they enjoy life, and they accomplish a lot.

Prayer Starter: Lord, it seems as though it’s a lot easier to see others’ negatives rather than their positives. Help me to see others through Your eyes, especially my loved ones and those with whom I am closest. I want to bless and support them as You do. Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Way to Wisdom

 

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler for them that walk uprightly” (Proverbs 2:6,7, KJV).

One of my brothers and a sister and I recently stood at the bedside of our 93-year-old mother. The doctor and nurses had just left the room after informing her that she needed a pacemaker for her heart.

After the doctor left, she called us around her. “Now I want you to join with me in prayer,” she said. She began to pray, her countenance radiant from the joyful assurance that God was listening and would answer:

“Father in heaven, I need Your help. I do not know if I need a pacemaker, but You do. Tell me what to do, because You know what is best for me.”

“Mother,” I asked, when she had finished praying, “how will you know when God answers you?”

She replied, “God will tell me what to do as He always does.” Later in the day she informed the doctor that she would not need a pacemaker. The doctor was disappointed, and he encouraged her to reconsider.

After he left, I inquired, “Mother, how do you know that you’re not to have a pacemaker?”

“Well,” she replied, “before I prayed I had an impression that this was the right thing to do because the doctor and nurses felt so strongly, but as I prayed God seemed to take away the desire.” Months later we all agreed that she had made the right decision as her health was greatly improved.

For more than 75 years this beloved saint has known the faithfulness of this promise for wisdom. “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous. He is a buckler for them that walk uprightly.”

Is Christ real? Does He give answers to practical problems of life? Inquire of one who has walked with Him for more than three-quarters of a century and you will have no doubts. To achieve this wisdom, you must seek it with all your heart. The world’s wisdom, great as it may be cannot begin to measure up to the divine wisdom available to one who faithfully reads, studies, and meditates upon God’s Word and who has a close intimate relationship with Him in prayer.

Bible Reading:Proverbs 2:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek God’s supernatural wisdom by diligently studying God’s Word, through prayer and through fellowship with others who walk with God.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – No Day Accidental or Incidental

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

No day is accidental or incidental.  No acts are random or wasted.  Look at Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem.  A king ordered a census.  Joseph was forced to travel.  Mary, as round as a ladybug, bounced on a donkey’s back.  The hotel was full.  The hour was late.  The event was one big hassle.

Yet out of the hassle, hope was born.  It still is.  I don’t like hassles.  But I love Christmas because it reminds us of the heart-shaping promises of Christmas.  Long after the guests have left, and the carolers have gone home and the lights have come down, these promises endure:  God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).  Perhaps you could use some Christmas this Christmas?

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – “A twentieth-century founding father”

“George Herbert Walker Bush was America’s last great soldier-statesman, a twentieth-century founding father. He governed with virtues that most closely resemble those of Washington and of Adams, of TR and of FDR, of Truman and of Eisenhower, of men who believed in causes larger than themselves.”

With these words, biographer Jon Meacham eulogized President George H. W. Bush at yesterday’s state funeral in Washington, DC. The service at the National Cathedral was one of the most moving I have witnessed.

Several speakers referred to the late Barbara Bush, the president’s amazing wife of seventy-three years, and to their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of three. I was especially touched when President George W. Bush ended his wonderful eulogy in tears as he said, “Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”

I was reminded of a cartoon published after Mr. Bush died. It pictures a World War II fighter plane now landed in heaven. Next to it are the president and Barbara wearing her trademark pearls, holding hands with little Robin. His wife says, “We waited for you.”

“Why was I spared?”

The great theologian and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen noted: “We have to prepare ourselves for our death with the same care and attention as our parents prepared themselves for our births.” George H. W. Bush was prepared for his death long before it came.

Continue reading Denison Forum – “A twentieth-century founding father”