Charles Stanley – No One Is Righteous

 

Romans 3:19-28

Many people think that by trying to live a good life, they are guaranteed a ticket to heaven. They may say things like, “I’m a good person; I don’t steal, lie, cheat, or commit adultery, as other people do. I’ve never been to prison, and I always work hard and contribute to society. So why shouldn’t I deserve to go to heaven?” Notice that the focus is on “what I do.”

This is actually a false idea used by the enemy as a way to deceive people. The truth is that God does not accept anyone based upon works, and the reason is simple: Salvation doesn’t depend on anything we can achieve. Nothing you or I do can earn it. We are saved solely on the basis of what Jesus accomplished when He died in our place to set us free from the power of sin and death. That’s what salvation is about.

To truly know the heavenly Father, you need to be right with Him. Yet not a single one of us is righteous on our own. Each of us has sinned over and over, not only in words and deeds but also in the contemplations of our heart. We can’t boast of righteousness, even if we can boast of “good works.” But at the cross, Christ was dealing with our sin problem, not our works.

We came into this world as sinners, separated from the Creator by our self-centered nature. Jesus, through His grace, took the punishment we deserved when He went to the cross as our substitute. In that way, He makes it possible for everyone who trusts in Him to be made righteous. By receiving Him as the Savior, anyone can begin a new life as God’s child (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4-9).

Bible in One Year: 2 John 1, 3 John 1, Jude 1

 

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Our Daily Bread — Just Another Day

 

Read: Acts 3:17–26 | Bible in a Year: Haggai 1–2; Revelation 17

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. Acts 3:13

In Christmas Every Day, William Dean Howells tells of a little girl who gets her wish. For one long, horrible year it is indeed Christmas every day. By day three, the yuletide joy has already begun to wear thin. Before long everyone hates candy. Turkeys become scarce and sell for outrageous prices. Presents are no longer received with gratitude as they pile up everywhere. People angrily snap at each other.

Thankfully, Howell’s story is just a satirical tale. But what an incredible blessing that the subject of the Christmas celebration never wearies us despite the fact that we see Him throughout the Bible.

After Jesus had ascended to His Father, the apostle Peter proclaimed to a crowd at the temple in Jerusalem that Jesus was the one Moses foretold when he said, “God will raise up for you a prophet like me” (Acts 3:22; Deuteronomy 18:18). God’s promise to Abraham, “Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed,” was really a reference to Jesus (Acts 3:25; Genesis 22:18). Peter noted, “All the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days”—the arrival of the Messiah (Acts 3:24).

We can keep the spirit of Christmas alive long after the celebrations have ended. By seeing Christ in the whole story of the Bible we can appreciate how Christmas is so much more than just another day.

Father, thank You for giving us Your Son, and for giving us His Story on the pages of the Bible.

This year, as you pack up the Christmas decorations, don’t put away the spirit of Christmas.

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

The book of Acts describes how the Spirit of God enabled followers of Jesus to spread the word of what they had seen with their eyes (Acts 1:8). Their witness was given credibility by miracles (3:1–10), care for one another (6:1–7), a love for their enemies, and a willingness to suffer and die for their life-changing story (7:59–8:4).

From the temple of Jerusalem to a prison in Rome, they told how the long-awaited King and Savior of Israel had been crucified (3:17–18). Together they showed how the Jewish Scriptures could be read with a new understanding (8:26–35), and even how other religious beliefs (17:16–31) could be seen in light of a resurrected Savior and Lord.

Mart DeHaan

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christmas Past

The floor contains the remnants of torn wrappings, boxes, and bows. The stockings hang lifeless from the mantel, empty of all their contents. Leftovers are all that are left of holiday feasting. Wallets are empty and feelings of buyer’s remorse begin to descend and suffocate. On the morning after Christmas, thus begins the season of let down.

It’s not a surprise really. For many in the West, the entire focus of the Christmas season is on gift-giving, holiday parties, and family gatherings, all of which are fine in and of themselves. But these things often become the centerpiece of the season. Marketers and advertisers ensure that this is so and prime the buying-pump with ads and sales for Christmas shopping long before December. Once November ends, the rush for consumers is on, and multitudinous festivities lead to a near fever pitch.

And then, very suddenly, it is all over.

In an ironic twist of history, Christmas day became the end point, the full-stop of the Christmas season. But in the ancient Christian tradition, Christmas day was only the beginning of the Christmas season. The oft-sung carol The Twelve Days of Christmas was not simply a song sung, but a lived reality of the Christmas celebration.(1) In the traditional celebrations, the somber anticipation of Advent—waiting for God to act—flowed into the celebration of the Incarnation that began on Christmas day and culminated on “twelfth night”—the Feast of Epiphany.

For twelve days following Christmas, Christians celebrated the “Word made flesh” dwelling among them. The ancient feasts that followed Christmas day all focused on the mystery of the Incarnation worked out in the life of the believers. Martyrs, evangelists, and ordinary people living out the call of faith are all celebrated during these twelve days.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christmas Past

Joyce Meyer – Carried in His Arms

 

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” — Psalm 91:2

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

At various points in our lives, all of us feel we’re getting “out of our depth” or “in over our heads.” There are problems all around: a job is lost, someone dies, there is strife in the family, or a bad report comes from the doctor. When these things happen, our temptation is to panic because we feel we’ve lost control.

But think about it: The truth is that we’ve never been in control when it comes to life’s most crucial elements. The only thing that holds us up—and the thing we can be most grateful for—is the grace of God, our Father, and that won’t change.

God is never out of His depth, and therefore, we’re safe when we’re in life’s “deep end” because we can trust that He will always carry us in His arms.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that You are a refuge for me. I know that because You are with me, I can feel safe and secure. Thank You that no matter how difficult life may seem, I can be at peace because You will never let me go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Resist the Devil

 

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, KJV).

I received a call for help one day from the wife of an alcoholic. He is a wonderful person when he is sober, but a demon when he is drinking. Why does he keep drinking?

Another day I talked with a young man who was on drugs. He is deathly afraid that someone will find him out and he will be caught, end up in jail and have a police record. Still, something about drugs woos him to go on another trip, to smoke another joint.

While it is true that addiction plays an important part in such enslavement, it is also true that Satan is chortling behind the scenes – and he needs to be resisted.

Satan manifests himself in various ways. At times he presents himself as one who has world authority. Another time he comes as an angel of light, or as a roaring lion. Satan’s demons can have direct influence in your life or mine.

We wrestle against supernatural power. Satan is not just a man. He possesses supernatural powers. He is a very real enemy. True, he has no authority over us except that which is given to him of God, but we dare not become careless about our Christian walk and yield to temptations which he engineers through “the world, the flesh and the devil.”

And that’s the reason I shudder when I think of individuals who are careless in their use of alcohol and drugs, and who become involved in unscriptural sex relationships. The drug culture has spawned a Satan-worship cult, and men are committed to Satan just as you and I are committed to Jesus Christ. In the words of James, we need to resist the devil, knowing he then will flee from us.

Bible Reading:1 Peter 5:8-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Upon every entrance of satanic influence into my life, I will submit myself to the Lord and resist the devil, and I will claim by faith the power of the Holy Spirit to live victoriously and supernaturally.

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Christ Was All of God in Human Body

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“Who do you say I am?” Jesus asks of Peter. “I believe…um.”  Maybe he wasn’t that hesitant.  But if he was, you can hardly fault him.  How many times do you call a callous-handed nail bender from a one-camel town the Son of God.

Remember the drawings with the question, “What’s wrong with this picture?”  We’d look closely for something that didn’t fit—like an astronaut on the moon with a pay phone in the background.  God doesn’t chum with common folk or snooze in fishing boats.  But Colossians 2:9 says He did!  “For in Christ there is all of God in a human body.”  All God, all man. Don’t we need a God-man Savior?  Nothing compares to what Philippians 3:8 says is “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord!”

Read more Next Door Savior

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Man fills 18-wheeler with toys for Christmas

A Dallas man worked with several area foundations to fill an eighteen-wheeler with toys for a thousand needy children.

Gregory Hudson says most of the toys were bought with his own money. His motivation was simple: he struggled as a child and wanted to help those who are where he was. “When you get up, make sure you go back and take care of your people,” he said.

In other news, a mother says her six-year-old met “the real Santa” last week at a sporting goods store in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Matthew Foster is blind and has autism. His mother, Misty Wolf, told reporters that he’s very interested in Santa. So, she brought him to a store early to avoid the crowds and hoped for the best.

Their visit was better than she could have imagined.

When Wolf explained Matthew’s condition, Santa raised his hand and said, “Say no more.” She later told reporters that “he knew exactly what to do.”

He walked over and knelt next to Matthew and invited him to touch his coat, its buttons, and his hat while he explained what Matthew was feeling. He got on the floor so Matthew would be more comfortable, then carried him to a taxidermied animal in the display to touch its antlers. Santa even let Matthew pull on his white beard.

“It was pretty magical,” his mother said.

Christmas through the eyes of a child

We could focus on discouraging news this morning: an eight-year-old boy died in US Border Patrol custodythe Indonesian tsunami death toll has climbed above four hundred; and a police officer was killed by a driver with “multiple prescription drugs” in his system. The officer was conducting a traffic stop at the time.

There’s always bad news in the news. However, I’d rather shift our attention elsewhere today.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Man fills 18-wheeler with toys for Christmas