Charles Stanley – The Abiding Life

 

John 15:1-6

Who doesn’t love a beautiful bouquet of flowers? They are a delight to the eyes and fill the room with fragrance. But truthfully, they’re dead because they’ve been disconnected from the plant. Although they may look alive for a while, in time they wither away.

This was the point Jesus was making when He used a grapevine and its branches as an illustration of a believer’s life in Christ. Once we’re saved, we become branches of Christ—then fruit is produced as His life flows through us, in fulfillment of what Jesus prayed for us in John 17:21.

This abiding relationship is what the Bible elsewhere describes as the Spirit-filled life (Eph. 5:18). The word “abiding” emphasizes our position as branches remaining in the vine of Christ. And the apostle Paul underscores the Holy Spirit’s role and authority in our life: As we live in submission and obedience to God’s Spirit, He produces His fruit in us (Gal. 5:22-23).

The problem arises when we try to live apart from the vine and direct our own life. The end result is often frustrating or disappointing since we have relied on human ideas and energy instead of being Spirit-led. There is no way to live a spiritually fruitful life without obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Our heavenly Father has graciously given us this abiding relationship, but sometimes we act as if we’re the vine and Christ exists to do our bidding. In which areas of your life are you reluctant to relinquish control? We were designed to be the branches, and the only way we’ll be fruitful is by submissively abiding in the source of our life.

Bible in One Year: 2 Thessalonians 1-3

 

http://www.intouch.org/

 

Our Daily Bread — The “No-Secret” Secret

 

Read: Romans 7:14–25 | Bible in a Year: Hosea 9–11; Revelation 3

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15

A coworker confessed to me that he didn’t think he was “Jesus material.” I listened as he described what he called his “comfortable, narcissistic” life, and how it didn’t satisfy him. “But here’s my problem, I’ve been trying to be good, even caring, but it isn’t working. It seems that the very things I want to do, I can’t do, and the things I want to stop doing, I just keep doing.”

“What’s your secret?” he asked me in complete sincerity. “My secret,” I answered, “is that there is no secret. I’m as powerless to live up to God’s standards as you are, which is why we need Jesus.”

I pulled out a Bible and showed him “his” quote as the apostle Paul expressed it in Romans 7:15. Paul’s words of frustration often resonate with both pre-Christians and Christians who find themselves trying to be good enough to deserve God but falling short. Maybe it resonates with you. If so, Paul’s declaration that Christ is the author of our salvation and its resulting changes (7:25–8:2) should thrill you. Jesus has already done the work to free us from the very things that have us so puzzled with ourselves!

The barrier between us and God, the barrier of sin, has been removed without any work on our part. Salvation—and the changes made by the Holy Spirit in the process of our growth—is what God desires for all. He knocks on the door of our souls. Answer His knock today. It’s no secret that He’s the answer!

See christianuniversity.org/NT225 for more study on the book of Romans.

Without Jesus, salvation and spiritual growth are both gifts beyond our reach.

By Randy Kilgore

INSIGHT

In Romans 7:14–25, Paul candidly shares his personal spiritual struggles as well as his deep confidence in Christ for help and hope (7:25). Romans 8 then unpacks that help and hope. The hopeful promise of “no condemnation” (8:1) is supported by the most extensive treatment of the Holy Spirit’s helping ministry (vv. 5–27) found anywhere in the Scriptures (outside of John 14–16). Paul’s confidence in Christ’s help and hope are not theoretical—they are provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit (8:11).

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Where Is God

In a certain home town there lived a cobbler, Martin Avdeitch by name. He lived in a small basement room whose one window looked out onto the street, and all he could see were the feet of people passing by. But since there was hardly a pair of boots that had not been in his hands at one time for repair, Martin recognized each person by his shoes. Day after day, he would work in his shop, watching boots pass by. One day he found himself consumed with the hope of a dream that he would find the Lord’s feet outside his window. Instead, he found a lingering pair of worn boots belonging to an old soldier. Though at first disappointed, Martin realized the old man might be hungry and invited him inside to a warm fire and some tea. He had other visitors that evening, and though sadly none were Christ, he let them in also. Sitting down at the end of day, Martin heard a voice whisper his name as he read the words: “I was hungry and you gave me meat; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in. Inasmuch as you did for the least of these, you did unto me.”(1)

Every Christmas, our family reads the story of Martin the Cobbler as an aid to our celebration. Tolstoy’s words offer something of a creative attempt to capture the wonder of a God who comes near and helps us picture the gift of Christ among us in accessible terms. Notably, the story was originally titled, Where God Is, Love Is.

The Christian story that informs the Christian calendar gives its followers time and opportunity to remember the coming of Christ in a specific context—in Bethlehem, in the Nativity, in the first Christmas. But it also presents repeated opportunities and reminders to prepare for the coming of Christ again and again. Like Martin eagerly waiting at the window, the Christian worldview is one that asks of every day of every year: How will Christ come near today? Will I wait for him? Am I ready for him? Am I even expecting to find him? We are reminded to keep watch, to be prepared, and to continually ready our hearts and minds for the one who is already near. At the same time, the Christian story would also have us to remember how unexpectedly Christ at times appears—as a baby in Bethlehem, a man on a cross, as a woman in need.

In the book of Titus, we read that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people.” How and where will grace show up this week? In order to stay alert to the rich possibilities, perhaps we need to keep before us the radical thought of all that God has offered: a Christ child who comes down to us, a redeemer willing to die for us, a God willing to redefine what is near—all so that we might be where God is. Christianity is not an escape system for us to avoid reality, to live above it, or to be able to redefine it. Christianity is a way that leads the world to grasp what reality is and, by God’s grace and help, to navigate through it to our eternal home in God’s presence.

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Joyce Meyer – Reenergize Yourself

 

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. — Psalm 25:5

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

If you are worn out all the time, it will affect your spiritual life because you won’t want to pray, study the Word, or walk in the fruit of the Spirit. If you are no longer sensitive to other people’s needs, you aren’t hearing from God.

If you are this tired, it is time to reenergize your life. Prune away the things that wear you out; don’t try to do what you think everyone else is doing. Wait on God to lead you, and get the rest you need to enjoy your walk with Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, I ask for Your help to lead a healthy and balanced life. Show me areas that need changing. Help me to schedule enough time for rest, relaxation, and time with You. I don’t want to live worn out, but I want to be healthy—spirit, soul and body—so I can be led by You and be a blessing to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Place of Rest

 

“So there is a full complete rest still waiting for the people of God. Christ has already entered there. He is resting from His work, just as God did after the creation. Let us do our best to go into that place of rest, too, being careful not to disobey God as the children of Israel did, thus failing to get in” (Hebrews 4:9-11).

A Christian leader was asked: “How do you handle the incredible pressure of your schedule – speaking, writing, giving leadership to a great movement that touches the lives of millions of people around the world? How do you do it? You must carry a tremendous load!”

The inquirer was surprised at the response. “No, quite honestly I don’t carry the load. I’m not under any pressure. I made a great discovery, probably the greatest discovery that a Christian can make. In the Christian life there is a place of rest which one enters by faith and obedience. No matter how great the pressure, or how terrible the testing, the supernatural resources of God sustain, empower, bless and encourage us and our Lord carries the load and fights for us.”

Though few Christians ever enter into this rest, it is available to all believers. When the Israelites were on their way to the promised land, God had already prepared the hearts of the inhabitants, filling them with fear. There is reason to believe that they would have capitulated readily. But when the twelve spies returned after forty days of checking out the land, ten of them reported, “There are giants in the land, and we felt like grasshoppers in their sight.” Only Joshua and Caleb said, “Let’s go in and take the land. God has withdrawn His blessing from the people and He will fight for us.”

But three million Israelites agreed with the majority report, and as a result, wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Why did it take so long for them to enter the land God had already given them? Because, as recorded in verse 2, they failed to mix the promises of God with faith.

Why does the average Christian not enter into a place of rest with God – that supernatural life which produces an abundance of fruit? Because he fails to mix the promises of God with faith. That is what this book, Promises, is all about – to remind us daily of our heritage as children of God and to show us how we can draw upon the mighty, inexhaustible resources of deity to live the supernatural life. Are you experiencing the life of the Spirit? Have you entered into God’s rest? If not, you can begin to do so now.

Bible Reading:2 Thessalonians 1:3-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As an act of faith and obedience, I will enter that place of rest and I will encourage every believer with whom I have contact today to join me in the adventure

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Heart of the Human Problem

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The sinful nature is the stubborn, self-centered attitude that says, “My way or the highway.” The sinful nature is all about self: pleasing self, promoting self, preserving self.  I have a sin nature!  So do you.  Under the right circumstances you will do the wrong thing.  You’ll try not to, but you will.  You have a sin nature.  You were born with it.

The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart! Christmas commemorates the day and the way God saved us from ourselves.  The angel speaking to Mary in Matthew 1:21 says, “. . .you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  Each of us entered the world with a sin nature. God entered the world to take it away!

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Are screens affecting our children’s brains?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been studying the effect of screen time for children. The preliminary results are in and they’re not good.

The NIH report shows that nine- and ten-year-old children who spend more than two hours in front of a screen each day score lower on thinking and language tests. This is troubling since the average “tweenager” spends up to six hours a day on their tablet or phone.

In addition, scientists have found that children with daily screen usage of more than seven hours show premature thinning of the brain cortex. This is the outermost layer that processes information from the physical world. While it’s too soon to know with certainty that screen time usage caused the changes to the children’s brains, scientists will be monitoring this relationship carefully.

Are your children addicted to technology?

The NIH report is just one example of the growing effect of technology on our children. Another study related smartphone use by children to sleep deprivation and other problems associated with poor attention spans. This is alarming since two-thirds of children take their smartphones to bed with them.

One group of scientists found that the more time four-year-olds spent interacting with media, the shorter their sleep was at ages four and six. A study published by Harvard Medical School has shown that blue-tinged light emitted by devices such as smartphones and tablets suppresses the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone vital to good sleep.

Counselors warn that digital addiction is a growing problem. The compulsion to continue playing video games or using technology is escalating. China has identified internet addiction as one of its main public health risks. In some parts of Asia, digital addiction rates may be as high as 26 percent.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Are screens affecting our children’s brains?