Charles Stanley – God Offers Love to the Hurting

 

John 4:7-27

When do you most need the assurance of God’s love? Isn’t it usually when you are experiencing the deepest pain? If you are suffering rejection, failure, or any circumstance that is testing your faith, you need to know the Lord still cares and will never stop loving you. This is exactly what we see in Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman:

He initiated contact. Much to His disciples’ dismay, Jesus traveled through Samaria to meet this woman. In that day, Jews did not associate with Samaritans and even avoided their region. But God does not adhere to man’s rules or prejudices. He reaches out with a message of hope and new life to anyone who will listen and believe.

He knew her pain and heartache. She must have felt worthless and unloved after being abandoned or divorced by five husbands. We all have emotional baggage that weighs us down and causes pain, and this is often what God uses to draw us to Himself.

He offered forgiveness and love. Jesus drew out the details of her situation so she could recognize her need for a Savior and be receptive to His offer of forgiveness. He understood she lacked love, acceptance, and a sense of value—and a relationship with Him was the only way to fulfill that need.

God sees us as clearly as He saw the Samaritan woman. He knows our sins and hurts and wants to bring us forgiveness and restoration. As we accept His salvation and submit to the Holy Spirit’s transforming work, we’ll have the assurance of His love and care for us.

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 7-9

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — A Christmas Letter

 

Read: John 1:1–14 | Bible in a Year: Jonah 1–4; Revelation 10

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father. John 1:14

Every Christmas, a friend of mine writes a long letter to his wife, reviewing the events of the year and dreaming about the future. He always tells her how much he loves her, and why. He also writes a letter to each of his daughters. His words of love make an unforgettable Christmas present.

We could say that the original Christmas love letter was Jesus, the Word made flesh. John highlights this truth in his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). In ancient philosophy, the Greek for Word, logos, suggested a divine mind or order that unites reality, but John expands the definition to reveal the Word as a person: Jesus, the Son of God who was “with God in the beginning” (v. 2). This Word, the Father’s “one and only Son,” “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (v. 14). Through Jesus the Word, God reveals Himself perfectly.

Theologians have grappled with this beautiful mystery for centuries. However much we may not understand, we can be certain that Jesus as the Word gives light to our dark world (v. 9). If we believe in Him, we can experience the gift of being God’s beloved children (v. 12).

Jesus, God’s love letter to us, has come and made His home among us. Now that’s an amazing Christmas gift!

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Word of God, and You bring light into my life. May I shine forth Your goodness and grace and bring You honor.

How can you share the amazing gift of Jesus with others today?

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

In this account of Jesus’s life, John the disciple notes the supreme irony: the Creator visits His creation, and His creation does not recognize Him (John 1:10). More than that, God’s chosen people reject their Messiah: “He came to that which was his own [Israel], but his own did not receive him” (v. 11). It would seem, then, that Jesus’s visit to our planet was not a success. But many did believe, and John emphasizes, “To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (vv. 12–13).

Tim Gustafson

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Child Is This?

The spirit of Christmas often lends itself to the cry of loneliness. During this season more than any other, thoughts long hidden cease to remain veiled. Yearning for a place to rest our heads from lurking notions of restlessness or isolation, intuitively, many of us sense that we are not quite at home. Christians often speak of this truth expectantly. We are waiting, waiting for all of creation to be made new, even as we catch glimpses now: “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”(1) But on honest nights, we might confess that the waiting is wearying, the silence at times daunting. We are homesick, like children lost in a crowd, not quite at home nor capable of getting there.

For many, the songs and sounds of Christmas lure us further toward this restless longing. Since I was small, the Victorian carol What Child Is This? has roused cries and questions. The haunting, minor tune itself seems to place ancient pleas on our lips: How long O Lord will you look on? How long shall I cry for help? Will you not come near? Could you not tear open the heavens and come down?(2)

The words of the hymn seem to rise from a confused onlooker at the first Christmas. What child is this, here in this crowded stable, surrounded by animals and expectation? If this is this the Messiah, why is he here in the cold, without a bed? If this is a king, where is the display of royalty? If this is God, why come like this?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Child Is This?

Joyce Meyer – A Big, Rewarding Life

 

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. — James 1:6

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

People with low confidence are double-minded, indecisive people who constantly get frustrated with life. If they do make a decision, they are tormented by self-doubt. They second-guess themselves. As a result, they don’t live boldly. They live little, narrow lives, and they miss out on the big, rewarding lives God wants them to enjoy.

You may be aware of some of God’s promises for His people—promises for peace, happiness, blessings, and so on. But did you know that all of God’s promises are for every person?

That’s right—when it comes to fulfilling promises, God does not discriminate. However, God requires us to approach Him in faith—the deeply held confidence that God is trustworthy and will always make good on His promises.

God loves you; He wants you to relax in the knowledge of that love. God wants you to experience the peace of mind that comes from resting in His love and living without the torment of fear and doubt.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I hate all the second-guessing and the wavering that come with a lack of confidence in You. I know that You want me to enjoy a big, rewarding life, and I know that Your promises of blessings and joy and peace are for me. By faith I receive all that You have for me now. Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Gift of Himself

 

“Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17,18, KJV).

Near the Church of St. Mark’s in Venice are three 17th century churches often admired for their highly ornate sculpture. On closer inspection, Ruskin points out, they are found to be “entirely destitute of every religious symbol, sculpture or inscription.”

They are really monuments to the glory of three Venetian families who provided the funds for their construction. “Impious buildings, manifestations of insolent atheism,” they were called by John Ruskin, English writer, art critic and sociologist.

Many Christians are like these buildings. Their association with God is more of a facade, formal and ritualistic. They do not know God as a caring Father with whom they experience a delightful, loving relationship.

As we meet God’s conditions, he becomes our Father, and we become His sons and daughters. His gift of Himself is illustrated in the life of a successful young attorney.

“The greatest gift I ever received,” he said, “was a Christmas gift from my dad. Inside a small box was a note saying, ‘Son, I will give you an hour every day after dinner – 365 days. It’s all yours. We’ll talk about what you want to talk about, we’ll go where you want to go, we’ll play what you want to play. It will be your hour.

“He not only kept his promise, but every year he renewed it – and it was the greatest gift I ever had in my life. I had so much of his time.”

Bible Reading:2 Corinthians 6:11-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will count myself richly blessed for having so much of my Father’s time and will seek diligently to be worthy of His love and availability to me.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – A Remarkable Gift

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

A remarkable gift can arrive in an unremarkable package!  One did in Bethlehem.  We don’t often think of Paul in our Christmas reflections.  Yet we should.  His words in Philippians 2:5-11 are the Bible’s most eloquent summary of the Bethlehem promise.

“Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God . . .rather he made himself nothing by taking the very form of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.

Therefore God called him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. . .and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!”

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – What Beth Moore and Max Lucado have in common

Beth Moore and Max Lucado made headlines at a recent conference in ways you might not expect.

A one-day summit on sexual abuse and harassment was held at Wheaton College. As the organizer explained, the group met “to help amplify a conversation” on this difficult subject.

Beth Moore was the featured speaker. Her story of sexual abuse was shared by others who spoke. Then Max Lucado closed the conference by sharing for the first time his own story of sexual abuse as a child.

They are not alone. According to a recent survey, eight in ten pastors know someone who has experienced domestic or sexual violence. A fifth of the clergy has experienced such violence themselves, including sexual assault, rape, or child sexual abuse.

“We are living in an age of historical reckoning.”

In other news, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary released a report detailing the school’s extensive historical ties to slavery, the Confederacy, and white supremacy.

The study found that all four founders of the school, one of the oldest and most influential seminaries in the US, owned slaves. Other findings: early faculty and trustees defended slavery as “righteous”; the seminary supported the Confederacy during the Civil War; and the school opposed racial equality well into the twentieth century.

Albert Mohler Jr., the seminary’s longtime president, prefaced the report: “We are living in an age of historical reckoning. The moral burden of history requires a far more direct and far more candid acknowledgment of the legacy of this school in the horrifying realities of American slavery, Jim Crow segregation, racism, and even the avowal of white racial supremacy.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – What Beth Moore and Max Lucado have in common