Charles Stanley –God’s Loving Desire

 

Ephesians 2:1-10

Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts are usually centered on what we want—but have you ever considered what God desires? Why did He create us, and what is His goal for us? The answer is found in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord … is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” But why does God want mankind saved?

Because He loves us (Eph. 2:4). His love isn’t based on any worthiness in us but on His nature. As 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love,” and His attributes never change.

Because of His grace (Eph. 2:5). We can’t do anything to earn salvation, because it’s obtained only through God’s grace. And throughout our time on earth and into eternity, the lives of God’s children should exhibit evidence of His grace (Eph. 2:7).

For His glory (Eph. 1:5-6). God’s glory is displayed as He saves sinners and changes them into saints. Then as we each live obediently before Him, others will see our good works and glorify the God who transformed us.

Sometimes we’re shortsighted and think we’re the center of salvation, but it’s really all about our amazing God, who sent His Son to rescue us from sin, death, and eternal punishment. Jesus died and suffered the chastisement we deserved, and He offers us forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father. And all we have to do is believe and receive Christ’s payment for our sins. What a gracious God we have, who wants us to be with Him forever so He may continue to shower His kindness upon us.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 5-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Adopted

 

Bible in a Year:Exodus 25–26; Matthew 20:17–34

God sent his Son . . . that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Galatians 4:4–5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Galatians 4:1-7

I’m glad when a philanthropist builds an orphanage for homeless children. I’m thrilled when that person gives even more and adopts one of them. Most orphans would be delighted merely to have a patron. But then to learn the sponsor isn’t content merely to help me but also wants me. How must that feel?

If you’re a child of God you already know, because it’s happened to you. We couldn’t complain if God had merely loved us enough to send His Son that we might “not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It would be enough for us. But not for God. He “sent his Son . . . to redeem” us, not as an end in itself, but “that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4–5).

The apostle Paul refers to us as “sons” because in his day it was common for sons to inherit their father’s wealth. His point is that now everyone who puts their faith in Jesus, whether man or woman, becomes a “son” of God with equal and full rights of inheritance (v. 7).

God does not merely want to save you. He wants you. He has adopted you into His family, given you His name (Revelation 3:12), and proudly calls you His child. You could not possibly be loved more, or by anyone more important. You aren’t merely blessed by God. You are the child of God. Your Father loves you.

By Mike Wittmer

Today’s Reflection

Father, what a privilege to call You this! Thank You for saving me, and for wanting me.

Welcome to Mike Wittmer! Meet all our authors at odb.org/all-authors.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Servant King 

 

The book and television series Game of Thrones has brought the mythical medieval world of kings and kingdoms back into the contemporary imagination. The world it depicts is a brutal world of despots and power-hungry individuals who will make any alliance to secure their way to the throne. While there are some characters who place the good of the realm over family or individual ambition, most of the characters are a despicable lot maniacally driven towards power.

For those who hail from kingless countries, the language and images of kings and lords may seem at best outdated and the stuff of Arthurian legend, or at worst oppressive. Dominant images of kings and kingdoms as overlords, like those portrayed in Game of Thrones, conjure up images of tyrants living in ancient feudal societies who will stop at nothing and not think twice about stepping over anyone who gets in their way. As a result, for some the word “king” can hold fairly negative images and feelings.

Regardless, for Christians the language of king, kingdom, rule, and authority is inescapable. Christian’s celebrate the rule of Christ over all creation. The apostle Paul’s words to the Philippian church describe Jesus in the language of kings: “God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”(1)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Servant King 

Joyce Meyer – Which Way Will You Choose?

 

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. — Matthew 7:13-14

Adapted from the resource New Day New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Here in this passage, Jesus speaks of two different ways: the broad way that leads to destruction and the narrow way that leads to life.

As I was meditating on this passage, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Joyce, on the broad way there is room for all kinds of fleshly things like bitterness and unforgiveness and resentment and vindictiveness. But on the narrow way there is only room for the Spirit.”

In the flesh it is easy to take the broad path, but the end result is destruction. Emotions move us to take the easy way, to do what feels good for the moment. Wisdom moves us to take the hard way that leads to life. The question is: Which will we choose?

No matter what has happened to you in your lifetime, even if you have been abandoned by your spouse or abused by your parents or hurt by your children or others, if you’ll stay on that narrow path and leave all your excess baggage behind, sooner or later you will find the peace, joy, and fulfillment you seek.

We must keep walking in the ways of the Lord: And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint (Galatians 6:9 AMPC).

Jesus is the Way, and He has shown us the way in which we are to walk. The Lord has sent upon us His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the way we are to go, the narrow way that leads to life and not the broad way that leads to destruction.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to choose the narrow path today—in my thoughts, with my words, and through my actions. When my feelings rise up and I’m tempted to take the broad path, please strengthen me by Your Spirit and help me to make wise decisions I will be happy with later. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Secret Plan for You

 

“God has told us His secret reason for sending Christ, a plan He decided on in mercy long ago; and this was His purpose: that when the time is ripe He will gather us together from wherever we are – in heaven or on earth – to be with Him in Christ, forever” (Ephesians 1:9,10).

One day a distinguished scientist questioned Michael Faraday, chemist, electrician and philosopher.

“Have you conceived to yourself what will be your occupation in the next world?” he asked.

Hesitating a moment or two, Faraday replied, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him.” And then he added, in his own words, “I shall be with Christ, and that is enough.”

Although nearly two thousand years have passed since He walked this earth, Jesus still stands as the ultimate expression of ethics and morality. Whatever one might think about Christians or the church, he will find no blemishes in the character of Jesus.

Perhaps the greatest testimony that can be given regarding the character of Jesus’ teachings is that they are still changing men and nations throughout the world today. Now, as before, those who listen to Him inevitably say “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46, RSV).

God’s Word tells us that Jesus had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Our Lord thus stands out as the supreme example of one who practiced the things that He taught to others and that He expects of His followers.

We still stand today in the shadow of God’s sure promise: “For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him. And here is the staggering thing that in all which will belong to Christ we have been promised a share” (Ephesians 1:9-11, Phillips).

Bible Reading:Ephesians 1:11-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will meditate upon the fact that I am a child of God, and heir of God and joint-heir with Christ; and upon the startling, incredible fact that I am related to Him and share with Him in all of this indescribable privilege and blessing. As a result I will claim His supernatural love and power and will speak more freely to others of my relationship with Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Fear of the Lord

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Boxes bring wonderful order to our world.  But when it comes to defining Christ, no box works.  People prefer a god they can manage, control, and predict.  Matthew 17:6 says Peter, James and John witnessed the transfiguration of Christ, and “they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.”  This is the fear of the Lord.

How long since you felt this fear?  Since a glimpse of him that left you speechless and breathless?  If it’s been a while, that explains your fears.  A big God translates into big courage.  A packageable Jesus may fit well on a shelf but does nothing for your fears.

We need to know the transfigured Christ.  The longer we live in him, the greater he becomes in us.  It is not that he changes but that we do.  Agree with the words of David in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – The polar vortex, seven-foot pythons, and divine sovereignty

Last week, a snake catcher in Australia removed a seven-foot python that had slithered through an open door and climbed into the shower. In another Australian home, a woman found a python in her toilet bowl.

The reason for such serpentine domestication: It’s hot in Australia. Record-setting hot. Temperatures hit 117 in Sydney recently, the hottest it has been since 1939. Reptiles are looking for shade and water like everyone else.

Meanwhile, it’s record-setting cold in the northern US. Chicago had a wind chill of negative fifty-two degrees yesterday morning. Nearly ninety million people are likely to experience temperatures at zero or below.

People in Minnesota could get frostbite after five minutes outside. Beer can’t be delivered in some parts of the Midwest because it would freeze before arriving. As I write this Daily Article, the temperature in Madison, Wisconsin, is minus twenty-six degrees.

We can’t have it both ways

Much about today’s news leaves us feeling powerless.

The death toll from the Brazilian dam collapse has risen to ninety-nine, with another 259 missing and feared dead. A gardener in Toronto has pled guilty to killing eight men, some of whom he buried in planters. Floods in Saudi Arabia have killed at least twelve people.

If we believe in an all-powerful God–or even if we don’t–we wonder why he allows so much suffering in his creation. If a car had as many problems as our planet, we’d hold the manufacturer responsible.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The polar vortex, seven-foot pythons, and divine sovereignty

Charles Stanley – Godly Living in an Ungodly Age

 

Titus 1:1-16

Our Founding Fathers created a governing framework heavily influenced by biblical principles. Slowly, we have changed from “one nation under God” to a group of people who no longer want Him to be involved.

Our nation has become ungodly in several ways: Many are driven by materialism and power; immorality and rebellion are prevalent; empty philosophy and false doctrine are widely accepted. Underlying it all is the push to keep God out of the nation’s affairs.

Yet even in an unbelieving society, people can, follow Jesus as individuals. But the world will continually disseminate faulty teachings, so believers must be discerning. Otherwise, erroneous messages can lead Christians to compromise their convictions. Then affections and priorities may change. Don’t let the world’s clamor make the Spirit’s voice less audible. Without His guidance, our minds become vulnerable to lies.

The Word of God is a compass that keeps us headed in the right direction, even in the midst of confusing messages. We need to be consistently filled with truth by reading, believing, meditating upon, and applying Scripture. God’s Word also says to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If our minds are focused upon Him, unholy beliefs will not be able to take root.

The Word is our guidebook. We will still face difficulty as we live in this imperfect world—it is a confusing, dark place that entices us but can never fulfills our true longings. Yet God’s truth will bring confidence and boldness, and His Spirit will direct and strengthen, enabling us to live victoriously.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — Algae and Diatoms

 

Bible in a Year:Exodus 23–24; Matthew 20:1–16

Stop and consider God’s wonders.

Job 37:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Job 37:14-24

“What’s a diatom?” I asked my friend. I was leaning over her shoulder looking at pictures on her cell phone she had taken through a microscope. “Oh, it’s like algae, but it’s harder to see. Sometimes you need a drop of oil on the lens or they have to be dead to see them,” she explained. I sat amazed as she scrolled through the pictures. I couldn’t stop thinking about the intricate detail God put into life that we can only see with a microscope!

God’s creation and works are endless. In the book of Job, one of Job’s friends, Elihu, points this out to Job as he struggles through his loss. Elihu challenges his friend, “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?” (Job 37:14–16). We, as humans, can’t begin to understand the complexity of God and His creation.

Even the parts of creation we can’t see reflect God’s glory and power. His glory surrounds us. No matter what we’re going through, God is working, even when we can’t see it and don’t understand. Let’s praise Him today, for “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9).

By Julie Schwab

Today’s Reflection

Lord, thank You for the detail You put into creation and for being at work even when we can’t see it.

Welcome to Julie Schwab! Meet all our authors at odb.org/all-authors.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God as Gardener

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? When the morning stars sang in chorus, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

These are just two of the long list of questions asked of the ancient character Job. God’s interrogation bursts forth like thunder, breaking God’s long, unnerving silence with a clap that seems to drown out Job’s outpour of grief. I can read them as a harsh sting, as a silencing gavel to Job’s anguish and objections, akin to the response of an exasperated parent putting an end to the child’s inquisitive clamoring with the trump card of a louder, final sovereignty: Because I’m the parent, that’s why. It is God as Creator imagined something more like God as tyrant.

Our imagining of God is often a complicated collection of stories, images, memories, and emotions, some of which may well be more accurate—or heightened in our minds for whatever reason—than others. I long read God’s response to Job’s pain and questions with the sting of an angry or weary parent. It was the imagination of another that helped me ask: What if these words aren’t said angrily, but with gentle lament for the created world in the life of even one wilting soul? What if these words respond to both the vast pain of creation where it groans in need and the vast beauty of creation where it remains a wonder of good? Such questions thunder quite a bit differently.

A theology professor of mine who grew up farming speaks readily about the creation of the world through the landscape of gardening.(1) I remember the first time I heard him simply read from the creation story. As he read aloud and commented on the story, it was as if I was hearing it again for the first time. Parts of it, I am certain, I had never heard before. Genesis chapter 2, the account of creation that Christians and Jews hold as sacred text, says that God planted a garden in Eden to the east. God, the gardener.

I can’t say that I have ever heard a sermon about creation as gardening, the creator of the world as Gardener. I had never considered what such an identity of God might mean to me or to the world around me. Yet here is one of the first passages in the Bible where we are introduced to who God is—and God is not a warrior or a judge or even a sovereign, but first, a gardener, a nurturer of all life, protector and planter, a designer, keeper, and pruner concerned with life’s flourishing. My own experiences with gardening bring to mind an entirely different set of emotions and dispositions than I typically consider God as having: delight in dirty hands, my own investment into the life I’ve planted, the thrill of fruit, the gentle attention to life, the compilation and cooperation with so many different factors—wind and rain, sun and predators—and the pleasure of simply being near it all. I find that when I am most weary of the despair and injustice of the world, my garden gives me an inexplicable hope.

“Gardens are a form of autobiography,” someone said. God as gardener, the intimate vision at creation’s beginning, can be traced throughout the Old Testament, in the psalms, and in the prophets. Jesus, too, concurs: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Such a reading of the world’s creation and the thought of a gardener tending to me, stirs a response akin to that of the man after God’s own heart:

When I survey this vast world, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars and all that you have established, what are mortals that you are mindful of us, human beings in whatever state of despair or joy or smallness that you care for us with the loving eye of a gardener?

Magnificent and intimate, powerful and gentle, God as gardener, whose deepest concern is life’s flourishing, makes no clearer a case than in Easter’s undoing of death and the vicarious humanity of the resurrected Son. How unmistakably fitting that the place of the tomb and resurrection is also described as a garden, and Jesus himself is mistaken as the gardener on that creative morning. This Maker of all creation, the Gardener who carefully tends to the world and the signs of its groaning, is surely at work even now making all things new.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) For further reading see Norman Wirzba, From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015).

 

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Joyce Meyer – Our Greatest Privilege

 

Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. — Matthew 7:7 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I have made a commitment to pray more than ever, and I hope you will join me.

Prayer is the greatest privilege that we have. Prayer makes all things possible! God’s Word teaches us that we have not because we ask not (see James 4:2). It is tragic indeed to miss out on the immense benefits that prayer provides simply because we fail to take the time to ask.

My desire is to “pray my way through the day.” It is another way of saying what the apostle Paul said, which is “Pray without ceasing” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17 AMPC).

This does not mean that I intend to stay on my knees all day or sit somewhere with folded hands praying all day. I simply desire to understand that all failure is a prayer failure and to be wise enough to invite the Lord to help me with each thing I do.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:18 that we should “pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer” (AMPC). Forming the habit of doing so will open the door to more victory and breakthrough than we can imagine.

I don’t want to miss any more opportunities to see God’s amazing power manifested in my life, and I am sure you don’t either, so please join me in discovering the power of simple prayer!

Prayer Starter: Dear Father, I commit to praying my way through the day, and as I begin, I ask for Your help. I am praying that You will help me pray! Teach me the vital importance of talking with You about everything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Knew His Future

 

“Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up'” (John 2:19, KJV).

A missionary in Turkey sought to teach the truth of the resurrection of Christ to a group of people.

“I am traveling, and I have reached a place where the road branches off in two ways,” he said. “I look for a guide, and find two men – one dead, and the other alive. Which of the two must I ask for direction – the dead or the living?”

“Oh, the living!” cried the people.

“Then,” said the missionary, “why send me to Mohammed, who is dead, instead of to Christ, who is alive?”

Jesus is the only person who has ever accurately predicted his own resurrection. He said He would be raised from the dead on the third day after dying on the cross for our sins, and He was!

Further, He was seen on many different occasions after His resurrection – once by as many as 500 people. He still lives today in the hearts of all who have placed their faith in Him, demonstrating His life of love and forgiveness through them.

Whenever men meet the living Christ, they are changed. The whole course of history has been changed because of Him.

“The gospel not only converts the individual, but it also changes society,” historian Philip Schaff wrote. “Everywhere the gospel has been preached, dramatic change has resulted. It has established standards of hygiene and purity, promoted industry, elevated womanhood, restrained antisocial customs, abolished human sacrifices, organized famine relief, checked tribal wars and changed the social structure of society.

“Born in a manger and crucified as a malefactor, He now controls the destinies of the civilized world and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe.”

Bible Reading:John 2:20-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will reflect often today on the fact that the risen Christ of history is the same loving Savior who now lives within me, offering me His love, His peace, His comfort, His wisdom, His strength. I will claim by faith His resurrection life to enable me to live supernaturally each moment of every day.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Fear of Global Calamity

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Life is a dangerous endeavor.  And Christ tells us that things will get worse.  We can expect heretical teachers.  Stick to one question— is this person directing listeners to Jesus?  If so, pray for that individual.  If not, get out.

We can expect calamity.  Christians will suffer the most.  “Voice of the Martyrs” contends that more Christ-followers have been killed for their faith in the last century than all previous centuries combined.  Even America suffers from increasing anger toward Christians.

Don’t give up.  Jesus equipped his followers with farsighted courage.  He said, “But he who stands firm to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).  All things, big and small, flow out of the purpose of God and serve his good will.  Though the world may collapse, the work of Christ will endure.

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Have Israeli scientists found a cure for cancer?

My mother died of cancer, as did my wife’s father. Our older son survived cancer only through surgery and intensive radiation. Since cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the world, chances are good that you have been touched personally by this terrible disease as well.

Now comes an astounding announcement from a team of Israeli scientists: They might have discovered the first true cure for cancer. One of them told the Jerusalem Post, “We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer.” He added, “Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market.”

The scientists describe their discovery as a kind of cancer antibiotic. It uses a combination of compounds called “peptides” that kill cancer cells in a way that is unaffected by mutations. Their treatment attacks cancer stem cells and targets cancer cells so specifically that side effects are minimized. It can also be tailored to the specific cancer it is fighting.

The company will soon begin clinical trials that could be completed within a few years and would make the treatment available for specific cases.

As a medical officer with the American Cancer Society notes, it is far too soon to know if this revolutionary treatment is the cure its developers hope it will be. But imagine for a moment that it is. If you created such a drug, wouldn’t you want to give it to the world? Wouldn’t cancer patients everywhere want to try it?

The best possible news

“Gospel” translates the Greek word euangelion, meaning “good news.” Jesus began his public ministry by calling people to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

The Christian “gospel” is the best possible news: You can be saved from an eternity in hell for an eternity in heaven as the transformed child of your Father. The God who made you loves you so much he considers your eternal life worth the death of his Son. If you will repent of your sins and believe in this good news, asking Jesus to forgive your sins and make you the child of God, he will always answer your prayer.

Everyone needs to hear this good news. Everyone deserves to hear it.

But there’s a catch.

“Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

As Jesus was traveling toward Jerusalem and the cross, he came upon “two blind men sitting by the roadside” (Matthew 20:30a). When they heard that Jesus was coming, they cried out to him, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” (v. 30b). The crowd rebuked them, but they repeated their cry to Jesus (v. 31).

Our Lord stopped and asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 32).

They replied, “Lord, let our eyes be opened” (v. 33).

And “Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him” (v. 34).

Lost people are as blind spiritually as these men were physically: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). But unlike these men, most lost people don’t know that they are lost.

Growing up in a family that never attended church, this was my story. I assumed that if there is a God, my “good” life would be good enough to get me into his heaven. I had no idea I was destined for hell and would have been offended if you told me so.

This is why so many Americans are lost in a country where the gospel is so accessible. If they understood their peril, they would change. This is part of the enemy’s deception.

Four steps to spiritual sight

Spiritual blindness is a good metaphor for our culture. We are all born with such blindness. But like the men on the road to Jerusalem, some of us meet the Great Physician and our eyes are healed. Now it’s our job to “pay it forward,” helping those who are blind meet the One who can do for them what he did for us.

But if a blind man won’t admit that he’s blind, he’s likely to resist and reject our message in the belief that he doesn’t need what we are offering and that we are trying to impose ourselves on him. This is inevitable and logical. We feel the same way when Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on our door.

What would cause such a blind person to welcome our help? Consider four steps.

First: Build a relationship with him so that he knows we care genuinely for him. We must earn the right to tell him what he does not want to hear.

Second: Live in such a way that he wants what we have. If we claim to be sighted but stumble as much as he does, why would he want to be like us?

Third: Be present in his life when the burden of his blindness becomes so great that he is willing to consider our offer of sight.

Fourth: Lead him to the Great Physician. Help him confess his blindness to Jesus and ask for his forgiveness and grace. Then celebrate with our friend as his eyes are opened and his eternity is transformed.

There are only two kinds of people in the world

If you discovered the cure for cancer, you’d do what the Israeli scientists are doing: You’d announce it to the world, believing that everyone deserves what you have found. In fact, you have discovered a far greater cure, one that prevents eternal death and gives eternal life.

What will you do with what you have found?

Craig Denison: “God believes that you are worth the death of his Son, and there is nothing you can do to change his mind.” The same is true for every person you meet today.

There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who are spiritually blind, and those who can see and are therefore responsible to help those who cannot.

Which are you?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – A Life of Godliness

 

Matthew 9:11-13

There is a common misconception that believers should be perfect. Pretending to have our life in order, many of us wear a happy face and speak words that sound acceptable. At times we’re ashamed to admit our shortcomings, as if they should not exist. Salvation through Jesus, however, doesn’t change the fact that sin is present in our life. When we’re born again, God forgives us and sees us as righteous. Yet our battle with sin continues till we arrive in heaven.

In fact, striving for perfection actually can be a trap that pulls us away from living a godly life. Functioning in this way is a form of relying on our own abilities. Jesus said that He came to heal the spiritually sick because they recognized their weakness. With an awareness of our inadequacy comes the realization of our need for Him.

The world sees successful individuals as powerful and self-sufficient, but Jesus doesn’t care about these qualities. Instead, He wants people to be aware of their own brokenness. This is the foundation for godliness.

We should accept our neediness and seek God passionately. Doing so allows the following attributes to develop: a hunger for God’s Word, faithful service, deepening trust, and decision-making based upon principle rather than preference. Patiently and mercifully, God matures us.

Be careful not to cover up your sins in order to look like a “good Christian.” Without recognition and confession of our sin, we are unable to rely fully on God. It is only with this awareness that we can passionately seek Him, obey in His strength, and repent when we miss the mark.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 39-40

 

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Our Daily Bread — Rip the Heavens

 

Bible in a Year:Exodus 21–22; Matthew 19

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.

Isaiah 64:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 64:1-8

In a recent conversation, where a friend shared with me that she’d abandoned her faith, I heard a familiar complaint: How can I believe in a God who doesn’t ever seem to do anything? This gut-wrenching question appears for most of us at one point or another, as we read of violence in the news and as we carry our own heartbreak. My friend’s distress revealed her intense need for God to act on her behalf, a longing we’ve all likely felt.

Israel knew this terrain well. The Babylonian Empire overwhelmed Israel, crushing them with an iron fist and turning Jerusalem into smoldering rubble. The prophet Isaiah put words to the people’s dark doubt: Where is the God who’s supposed to rescue us? (Isaiah 63:11–15). And yet from precisely this place, Isaiah offered a bold prayer: God, “rend the heavens and come down” (64:1). Isaiah’s pain and sorrow drove him not to pull away from God, but to seek to draw closer to Him.

Our doubts and troubles offer a strange gift: they reveal how lost we are and how much we need God to move toward us. We see now the remarkable, improbable story. In Jesus, God did rip the heavens and come to us. Christ surrendered His own ripped and broken body so that He could overwhelm us with His love. In Jesus, God is very near.

By Winn Collier

Today’s Reflection

What questions or doubts do you have to talk with God about?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Spaghetti Monsters and One Less God

Among atheist advocates, it has become fashionable to dismiss theism with the mantra that unbelievers, like theists, are atheist with regard to a host of entities considered to be divine at sundry times throughout history. Atheists, we are told, merely acknowledge one less God than theists. If believers understood why they reject Zeus, the argument goes, they would understand why atheists reject their God.

Unfortunately, dismissing theism on such grounds betrays a paltry acquaintance with the very idea of God, let alone the God revealed in the Bible. It is true that many concepts of God present us with entities that are nothing more than glorified human beings. But anyone who is familiar with the relevant religious and philosophical literature on the subject does not need to be told that such untutored notions of God are just pointless red herrings. Popular level atheism may be fodder for invigorating debates on the Internet, but it has little, if anything at all, to do with God.

Take, for instance, the idea of God defended by such a prominent ancient philosopher as Aristotle. Whereas Zeus and his associates held sway at the popular level, David Conway notes that Aristotle defended a God who was unchanging, immaterial, all-powerful, omniscient and indivisible; a God who possessed “perfect goodness and necessary existence.”(1) That is a striking parallel to the God worshipped in the major monotheistic religions of the world. Even among the so-called animistic religions, it is a mistake to think that the concept of God is limited to spirits in natural objects and events, even in cases where the latter are venerated. As Timothy Tennent notes, adherents of these religions acknowledge a being who is the ground of all being.(2)

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Joyce Meyer – Short and Sweet

 

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you…for a pretense make long prayers… — Matthew 23:14 (NKJV)

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

Sometimes people think they have to spend a long time praying in order to demonstrate their love for God. But prayer does not have to be long to be powerful.

The length of our prayers really makes no difference to God. All that matters is that our prayers are Spirit-led, heartfelt, and accompanied by true faith.

There is certainly nothing wrong with praying for an extended period of time. I believe we should set aside times for prolonged prayer and that our willingness or lack of willingness to spend time with God determines our level of intimacy with Him.

If issues in our lives really require us to pray at great length, then we need to do that, but we do not have to pray prolonged prayers just for the sake of logging time.

I have learned that some of the most powerful, effective prayers I can pray are things like, “Thank You, Lord,” or “Give me strength to keep going, Lord.” And perhaps the most powerful of all: “Help!!!”

See? Just a few words will connect us with heaven, and God will know how much we love Him simply because we turn our thoughts toward Him.

If you have thought your prayers had to be long in order to be effective, I hope you have now been relieved of that burden. Just one word spoken to Him in faith from a sincere heart can reach His heart and move His hand.

Prayer Starter: Father, let my prayers today be like breathing—easy, comfortable, and almost without thinking. Help my prayers and conversations with You become more genuine and meaningful—less about “have to” and more about “want to.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Power to Become Rich

 

“Always remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you power to become rich, and He does it to fulfill His promise to your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

A Christian woman whom I knew, worth many millions of dollars, panicked when the stock market dropped and she lost almost one million dollars. Even though she had tens of millions in reserve, she was filled with apprehension and fear that she would die a pauper. She had never discovered the adventure and freedom of “giving and receiving” in a trust relationship with God.

Conversely, a businessman called me long distance a short time later to tell me how excited he was over the way God was blessing his new business venture. He had decided to give all the profits – potentially millions – toward helping to reach the world for Christ.

“I am sending $50,000 for Here’s Life in Asia,” he said. “And there will be much more later. I don’t want to invest in buildings. I want to invest this money where it will be used immediately to win and disciple people for Christ.”

The principle is the same, whether you have $100 or $1 million. Ask God to tell you what to do toward helping to fulfill the Great Commission. Second, look for a worthy, proven project that you can support monthly, if only modestly, in addition to your commitment to your local church.

As your faith in God’s love and trustworthiness grows, prayerfully make a faith promise pledge that is greater than you are capable of fulfilling with your present income.

Bible Reading:Malachi 3:7-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will ask God today to help me trust Him to give – by faith – more than I can possibly afford to give toward his work, with the certainty that He will supply all my needs and enable me to meet my faith promise pledge supernaturally.

 

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Max Lucado – Fear That God is Not Near

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The valley of the shadow of doubt.  The fear that God isn’t near.  The fear that “why?” has no  answer.  In Luke 24:38, Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection and he asked them, “Why are you frightened?  He offered them two practical answers– touch my body and ponder my story.

We still can, you know.  We can brush up against the church; and when we do, we touch the body of Christ.  He dissipates doubts through fellowship. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, Jesus speaks.  And when he speaks, he shares his story.  God’s go-to therapy for doubters is his own Word.  Could the chasm between doubt and faith be spanned with Scripture and fellowship?  Find out for yourself.

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For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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