Charles Stanley – Remaining in the Vine

 

John 15:7-17

When Jesus gave the disciples His final instructions before going to the cross, He repeated a particular word. Abide—which occurs 10 times in John 15—isn’t one we use often, but it accurately conveys the relationship between Christ and His followers.

Abide means “to remain, dwell, continue, endure, or tarry.” Can you hear the call to faithfulness in these words? Our relationship with Jesus isn’t a onetime event of salvation but a long and steady walk with Him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). This is a fact for everyone who has been born again. But He also tells us to abide in Him (John 15:4), signifying that we have some responsibility as branches in Christ. Therefore, it’s essential that we know how to remain in Him.

Jesus says to let His words abide in us (John 15:7). Incorporating God’s Word into our minds and hearts is how we dwell with Him and learn to know Him intimately.

Obedience is another essential aspect of abiding (John 15:10). It’s like being an employee who obeys his manager’s instructions and does not take matters into his own hands. We are to rely on the Spirit’s direction instead of strategizing and making plans on our own.

Abiding in Christ also includes our relationships with fellow believers. Jesus commands us to love one another just as He has loved us (John 15:12).

God’s desire is that we bear much lasting fruit by abiding in Christ. This isn’t a sporadic endeavor done only when convenient; it’s an enduring commitment to remain in God’s Word and continue in obedience and love.

Bible in One Year: 1 Timothy 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — The “Hope for a Baby” Tree

 

Read: Lamentations 3:1–3, 13–24 | Bible in a Year: Hosea 12–14; Revelation 4

His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22–23

After wrapping the tree with clear twinkle lights, I tied pink and blue bows on its branches and christened it our “Hope for a Baby” Christmas tree. My husband and I had been waiting for a baby through adoption for more than four years. Surely by Christmas!

Every morning I stopped at the tree and prayed, reminding myself of God’s faithfulness. On December 21 we received the news: no baby by Christmas. Devastated, I paused by the tree that had become a symbol of God’s provision. Was God still faithful? Was I doing something wrong?

At times, God’s apparent withholding results from His loving discipline. And other times God lovingly delays to renew our trust. In Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah describes God’s correction of Israel. The pain is palpable: “He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver” (3:13). Through it all, Jeremiah also expresses ultimate trust in God’s faithfulness: “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv. 22–23).

I left the tree standing well beyond Christmas and continued my morning prayer. At last, on Easter weekend, we received our baby girl. God is always faithful, though not necessarily on our timeline nor always according to our desires.

My children are now in their thirties, but each year I set up a miniature version of the tree, reminding myself and others to hope in God’s faithfulness.

Dear God, help me trust You today even when I can’t see what You are doing. You are faithful.

The best reason for hope is God’s faithfulness.

By Elisa Morgan

INSIGHT

The book of Lamentations expresses the grief of Jerusalem following the 587 bcinvasion of Babylon. With her walls broken, her children exiled, and survivors living in the rubble of better times, it bares the soul of a once-proud people.

In its original Hebrew language, the book is composed of five chapters of carefully constructed poems. Its finely polished composition provides literary relief to the overwhelming confusion of a nation that has lost control of its own emotions and destiny. The only hope left is in the belief that above the clouds of this dark night of a nation’s soul, there is a God who has in the past shown that His mercies and love will never end.

Mart DeHaan

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Everyone Believes in a Virgin Birth

In correspondence with an old friend, a retired Princeton University professor, he detailed his objections to the Christian faith. His final remark seemed to overshadow all other considerations and was authoritatively written as if to definitively close the argument: “Nor can I believe in a virgin birth.” Such a belief was apparently implausible, absurd, immature.

Why is the virgin birth often the most problematic miracle to accept? Why is it more troubling than the thought of Jesus walking on water? Or multiplying the loaves?

Perhaps because we are content to let God do as he pleases with his own body, and we are delighted to be the recipient of gifts. However, we are offended by the thought of a miracle that inconveniences us, that has potential to disrupt our plans and our preferences.

I considered responding to my friend with positive reasons for believing in a virgin birth, but then I realized that he was, in fact, already committed to a virgin birth.

We find one virgin birth in the story of the Incarnation:

“How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

Admittedly, this is out of the ordinary. But criticism without alternative is empty; a hypothesis is only plausible or implausible relative to what alternative hypotheses present themselves. So what exactly is the alternative?

My colleague Professor John Lennox debated another Princeton professor, Peter Singer, one of the world’s most influential atheists. Lennox challenged him to answer this question: ‘Why are we here?‘ And this was Professor Singer’s response:

“We can assume that somehow in the primeval soup we got collections of molecules that became self-replicating; and I don’t think we need any miraculous or mysterious .”(1)

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Joyce Meyer – Desire Unity

 

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! — Psalm 133:1

Adapted from the resource The power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Bickering between God’s people is nothing new. It was a problem in the early church, just as it is now.

Paul strongly encouraged and urged the Church toward unity and wrote in Philippians 2:2 (AMPC): Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.

Where there’s unity, there’s blessing and anointing. When people are thankful for each other and choose to live in unity, they will experience the power of agreement.

But the power of God can’t work in our lives if we stay bitter and angry toward people. His love can’t flow through us if we’re holding on to strife and resentment. Peace equals power, and no peace equals no power.

Prayer Starter: I thank You today, Father, for the power we can experience when we decide to come together in unity. Today, I choose to put aside strife and arguments in order to pursue peace and unity. I am grateful that You will help me do this in Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – At Least As Much

 

“And if even sinful persons like yourselves give children what they need, don’t you realize that your heavenly Father will do at least as much, and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him?” (Luke 11:13).

A Christian leader approached me after one of my messages on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“I want to be a Spirit-filled person,” he said, “but I don’t know what to do. I have read many books about the Holy Spirit and have sincerely sought His fullness, but to no avail. I am seriously considering giving up Christian ministry and returning to a business career. Please help me.”

With great delight I shared with this earnest seeker the truths about the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We cannot have two masters.

There is a throne, a control center, in every life and either self or Christ is on that throne. This concept of Christ being on the throne is so simple that even a child can understand it.

It is such a simple truth, and yet, in its distilled essence, that is what the supernatural, Spirit-controlled life is all about – just keeping Christ on the throne. We do this when we understand how to walk in the control and power of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit came for the express purpose of glorifying Christ by enabling the believer to live a holy life and to be a productive witness for the Savior.

The key to supernatural living is a life centered in the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. This supernatural life is often called the Spirit-filled Christian or the Christ-centered life. The spirit-filled Christian is one who, according to Romans 6:11, has considered himself to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Christ is now at the center of his life; He is Lord.

Bible Reading:Romans 8:9-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will not allow self to usurp the rightful place of Jesus Christ – in the person of His Holy Spirit – at the control center, the throne, of my life.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – A People to Populate Heaven

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God has high plans for you and me.  He is recruiting for himself a people who will populate heaven.  It will be perfect.  Perfect in splendor.  Perfect in righteousness.  One word describes heaven:  perfect!  One word describes us:  imperfect!  So what does God do?  Abandon us?  Start over?  He could.  But he loves us too much to do that.

Will he populate heaven with rebellious, self-centered citizens?  If so, would heaven be heaven?  Colossians 1:19 says, “God was pleased for all of himself to live in Christ.”  All the love of God was in Jesus.  All the strength of God was in Jesus.  All the compassion and power and devotion of God were, for a time, in the earthly body of a carpenter. What started in the Bethlehem cradle culminated on the Jerusalem cross!  And God did it all to take us home to heaven.

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – School principal forbids Christmas decorations

An elementary school principal sent out a memo recently with guidelines as to what would be considered appropriate for classroom decorations and assignments during the holiday season. Teachers were reportedly told that sledding and scarves, the Frozen character Olaf, and other generic winter-themed items were acceptable.

Candy canes, however, were not.

According to the principal, they form the letter “J,” standing for “Jesus.” Christmas trees, reindeer, anything red or green, Christmas carols and music, and Santas were also on the forbidden list.

The school district quickly responded, stating that the memo “did not reflect district policy.” The district then placed the principal on administrative leave.

You might expect a story like this in a part of the country known for irreligiosity. But this happened in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Ralphie Parker’s Christmas

My wife and I were invited by some dear friends to see A Christmas Story: The Musical last night in Dallas. The show is a stage production of the classic television movie. Set in the 1940s in Indiana, it tells the story of Ralphie Parker, a little boy who wants a Red Ryder Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas.

The comedy has been ranked America’s favorite holiday movie of all time. Our family watched the film every year on Christmas Eve. Last night’s musical was just as enjoyable.

Here’s the problem: for millions of Americans, A Christmas Story has become the Christmas story.

There’s nothing in A Christmas Story about Jesus. This is not a criticism–the story is intended to be a humorous tale about the challenges and joys of families during the holidays.

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