Charles Stanley – A Godly Testimony

 

Acts 8:26-40

Many Christians define the word testimony too narrowly. Sharing Jesus is much more than just telling our conversion story or talking about God’s work in our lives, although those things are important. We need to be prepared to meet unbelievers at the point of their spiritual need, even if our own story is very different.

We can learn a lot from Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. While young Israelites had friends and family to disciple them in their faith, a foreign convert often had to work alone to discern the meaning of the Scriptures. So by asking, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip showed that he understood the Ethiopian’s disadvantage. That one question enabled him to discover that the man had a genuine thirst for God’s truth but did not know of the Messiah.

Philip used that information to tailor a gospel testimony for his particular listener. Consider how easily the man could have become confused or frustrated if Philip—whose Jewish background was so different from the Ethiopian’s—had told only his own conversion story. The evangelist wisely relied on the text at hand and the power of God’s Word to introduce the man to Jesus Christ.

Philip’s testimony began with the passage the Ethiopian was reading. He effectively spoke to the man’s spiritual interest in general while specifically answering his questions about Isaiah 53. We, too, must be sensitive to unbelievers’ concerns so we can explain how God will meet their needs.

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 12-13

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Don’t Be Afraid!

 

Read: Luke 2:42–52 | Bible in a Year: Micah 4–5; Revelation 12

The kingdom of God has come near. Mark 1:15

Nearly every time an angel appears in the Bible, the first words he says are “Don’t be afraid!” Little wonder. When the supernatural makes contact with planet Earth, it usually leaves the human observers flat on their faces in fear. But Luke tells of God making an appearance in a form that doesn’t frighten. In Jesus, born with the animals and laid in a feeding trough, God takes an approach that we need not fear. What could be less scary than a newborn baby?

On Earth Jesus is both God and man. As God, He can work miracles, forgive sins, conquer death, and predict the future. But for Jews accustomed to images of God as a bright cloud or pillar of fire, Jesus also causes much confusion. How could a baby in Bethlehem, a carpenter’s son, a man from Nazareth, be the Messiah from God?

Why does God take on human form? The scene of twelve-year-old Jesus debating rabbis in the temple gives one clue. “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers,” Luke tells us (2:47). For the first time, ordinary people could hold a conversation with God in visible form.

Jesus can talk to anyone—His parents, a rabbi, a poor widow—without first having to announce, “Don’t be afraid!” In Jesus, God draws near.

Heavenly Father, we pause at Christmas to remember how Your Son came to us in the form of a helpless baby . . . and we worship in amazement and wonder that God came near to us.

Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again. George Whitefield

By Philip Yancey

INSIGHT

The Feast of the Passover Jesus and His family attended was one of three annual feasts that Israelite males were required to attend (see Exodus 23:14–17). It’s estimated that 100,000 or more visitors would make their way to Jerusalem for this special occasion. At twelve years of age, Jesus was one year away from His entrance into Israelite manhood when He would become fully responsible for keeping the law. Today’s reading records Jesus’s unexplained absence from His family (Luke 2:43–45), but He was well aware of His mission (v. 49). This early scene in the temple where people were amazed at His teaching (v. 47) contrasts sharply with a later account where they would not be amazed but would try to kill Him (19:45–47).

Arthur Jackson

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christmas Will Come

According to a national organization dedicated to the study and aid of mental health, holiday stress is a widespread occurrence that plagues more of the population every year, for more time each year. “Americans are stressed during the holidays, we’ve long known this,” said David Shern, president of Mental Health America. “However, on January 2, when a person may expect the stress let up, they instead find themselves feeling down, physically ill, or anxious. This is because stress takes a serious toll on a person’s overall health—both physical and mental.”(1) And the phenomenon is hardly unique to America.

If we could somehow miraculously transport someone from the time of the Old Testament into this conversation and he or she listened to us describe the stress we feel as we move closer and closer to Christmas, they would concur. We would of course first have to explain what Christmas is—namely, the remembrance of the birth of the Messiah, the day God came among us. But at this explanation, they would immediately understand. In fact, they would find it completely remarkable if anyone should not face with stress, awe, and trembling the thought that God is coming, that God is here.

Of course, whatever our religion, we are well aware that this is not why we are stressed at Christmastime. According to Shern, we are stressed at the approach of Christmas because of finances, because of family, because of the absence of family, because of over-indulgence, because we have too much to do, or because we have too little to do and feel the pointed edges of loneliness. For so many of us, the thought that Christmas is coming is indeed one that invokes fear, trembling, and attention, though perhaps for unfortunate reasons.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christmas Will Come

Joyce Meyer – Love Can Change People

 

All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back. — Proverbs 21:26

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I once read a story in Guideposts Magazine, a remarkable account of how love changed a person’s life. A Christian woman lived next door to an elderly lady who never came out of her house or even raised her window shades to let light into her home. This lady’s husband had died, and she herself had endured a stroke, which had left her lonely and bitter.

The Christian woman and her two young children began trying to reach out to the elderly recluse, but every time they did, she rejected their advances. They baked cookies every week for a long time and delivered them to their neighbor’s door. The first time, she opened the door just a crack, accepted the cookies, thanked them, and closed the door.

The neighbor’s response was not what the Christian woman had hoped for, but she lovingly persisted. And eventually love did work! The elderly lady accepted a casserole from her and said more than just a short thank-you. As the visits continued, the elderly woman gradually began to chat longer.

Finally, one day, the Christian woman’s children picked some flowers from their garden and delivered them to their neighbor. Eventually, they all became good friends. The elderly lady got her life back. She opened her blinds, her door, and her heart, and she began to live again—all because someone who loved God was determined to love her.

Many people in the world today are just like the elderly neighbor. They have had sadness or difficulties in their lives and have become bitter. They seem to reject love, yet love is what they need most. Be a person who gives of yourself and your resources to reach out and show love to someone who desperately needs it.

Prayer Starter: Father, let me be an instrument of Your love today. Show me someone I can bless, encourage and uplift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Holy Spirit Promised

 

“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about Me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection” (Acts 1:8).

Evangelists were gathered in Amsterdam, Holland, from more than 130 countries around the world to attend the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. On the third night of this historic event I was asked to bring the address on “How to be Filled With the Holy Spirit.” Just before I was to speak, a note from Billy Graham was handed to me. It said, “I consider this one of the most important addresses of the entire conference.”

According to the hundreds of thousands of surveys which our ministry has taken all over the world, 95 percent of the professing believers do not understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This includes a majority of pastors, evangelists and missionaries. In fact, if I had only one message to give to the Christian world, it would be how to be filled with the Holy Spirit and how to walk moment by moment in the fullness of His power. Indeed if I had to choose between introducing a non-believer to Christ or helping a defeated, fruitless, impotent Christian to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit and share his faith in Christ with others, I would choose the latter because inevitably the end result would be far greater in terms of the number of people who would be introduced to Christ. The one great need of the Body of Christ today that transcends all other needs is to be awakened to the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, to be empowered and controlled by Him, to allow Him to exalt and honor our Lord Jesus Christ in and through us, for that is the purpose of His coming. “He (the Holy Spirit) shall praise Me and bring Me great honor by showing you My glory” (John 16:14).

On hundreds of occasions throughout the world I have spoken on this subject and always, when the invitation is given, a good percentage indicate their desire to be filled with the Spirit. The Scripture promises, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? If so, you are a candidate for the fullness of God’s Spirit. You can by faith appropriate His fullness right now by claiming His promise that God will release His power through you in order that you may be an effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading:Romans 15:15-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will claim by faith the fullness of God’s Spirit in order to live the supernatural life and to be a more fruitful witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that it is the Holy Spirit who will enable me to live that exciting, supernatural life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – We Didn’t Design the Hour

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Hollywood would recast the Christmas story!  Joseph’s collar is way too blue.  Mary is green from inexperience.  The couple’s star power doesn’t match the bill.  Too obscure.  Too simple.  The story warrants some headliners.  And what about the shepherds?  Do they sing?  A good public relations firm would move the birth to a big city.  The Son of God deserves a royal entry.  Less peasant, more pizzaz.

But we didn’t design the hour.  God did.  And God was content to enter the world in the presence of sleepy sheep and a wide-eyed carpenter.  No spotlights, just candlelight.  No crowns, just cows chewing cud.  If God was willing to wrap himself in rags, then all questions about his love for you are off the table.  When Christ was born, so was our hope.  That’s why I love Christmas!

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Girl with brain tumor: From no cure to no trace

Welcome to the shortest day and longest night of the year–unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case today is the shortest night and longest day of the year.

However short or long your day may be, it’s the only one you’re promised.

Ask Roxli Doss, an eleven-year-old who lives in the Austin, Texas, area. She may be out riding horses today. And that’s astounding.

Roxli was diagnosed in June with a rare, inoperable brain tumor for which there is no cure. After she underwent weeks of radiation, all her parents could do was to pray for a miracle.

“And we got it,” her mother says.

“Praise God we did,” her father agrees.

Her latest MRI scan shows no sign of the tumor. Doctors from MD Anderson, Johns Hopkins, and other hospitals all agreed on her diagnosis. Now she has gone from no cure to no trace.

Roxli will continue to undergo treatments such as immunotherapy as a precaution.

Drones shut down Gatwick airport

Every day brings new surprises.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Girl with brain tumor: From no cure to no trace