Charles Stanley – Spectator or Participant?


Romans 12:9-13

There’s something in human nature that resists having to lean on others for support. In fact, since its very beginnings, our country has been known for an independent spirit and self-sufficiency. But what may be considered beneficial in a national culture is not what Christ advocates for His church. Although we are each saved individually, the Lord doesn’t intend for us to live as if we’re on an island—set apart to ourselves. We are called the body of Christ, and as such, our lives are meant to touch, intersect, and connect with other believers in a local church.

The various ways we support one another are summarized in today’s passage, and they cover a large range of experiences, from rejoicing to suffering. No matter where we find ourselves on this spectrum, God calls us to be devoted to one another through service, prayer, and hospitality. Paul also specifies the attitudes we should have as we care for each other: sincere love, unselfishness, honor, diligence, and eagerness.

As you can see, the church is a place for participants, not spectators. Yet many Christians today think this kind of involvement in others’ lives is too costly. So they come on Sunday, stand to sing, sit to listen, and walk out to get back to their own lives. The term “spectator Christian” doesn’t apply only to those who deliberately avoid going to church. In fact, many churches are filled with observant attendees who sit in the pews each week but never touch a fellow believer’s life. What about you? Are you a spectator seeking what you can get or a participant looking for ways to give to someone else?

Bible in One Year: Genesis 4-7

Our Daily Bread — It’s Good to Ask


Read: Psalm 143:4–11 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 4–6; Matthew 2

Show me the way I should go. Psalm 143:8

My father has always had a directional sense I’ve envied. He’s just instinctively known where north, south, east, and west are. It’s like he was born with that sense. And he’s always been right. Until the night he wasn’t.

That was the night my father got lost. He and my mother attended an event in an unfamiliar town and left after dark. He was convinced he knew the way back to the highway, but he didn’t. He got turned around, then confused, and ultimately frustrated. My mother reassured him, “I know it’s hard, but ask your phone for directions. It’s okay.”

For the first time in his life that I’m aware of, my seventy-six-year-old father asked for directions. From his phone.

The psalmist was a man with a wealth of life experience. But the psalms reveal moments when it appears David felt lost spiritually and emotionally. Psalm 143 contains one of those times. The great king’s heart was dismayed (v. 4). He was in trouble (v. 11). So he paused and prayed, “Show me the way I should go” (v. 8). And far from counting on a phone, the psalmist cried out to the Lord, “for to you I entrust my life” (v. 8).

If the “man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) felt lost from time to time, it’s a given we too will need to turn to God for His direction.

What has caused you to feel turned around, possibly confused, maybe even frustrated these days? Why might you be resisting asking God and others for help?

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Asking God for direction is more than okay—it’s best.

By John Blase


The word spirit is used several times in Psalm 143. Twice David refers to the weakness of his own spirit (vv. 4, 7), and once he asks the Spirit of the Lord for guidance (v. 10). Was David referring to the Holy Spirit in his request for guidance? Having both the Old and New Testaments at their disposal, Christians have a more comprehensive understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit than ancient Israelites who lacked full revelation. Most of the time when the Spirit of God is referred to in the Old Testament, the author isn’t thinking of the Holy Spirit as a person, even though we understand that’s who was at work. Instead the writers were referring to God’s power, the “breath” of God that empowered and moved people. So when David asks the Spirit to “lead me on level ground” (v. 10), he’s asking for God’s empowering presence to go with him.

J.R. Hudberg

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – On Creativity  

I remember the mixed feelings of setting up the nativity scene at home for Christmas. My mum was always so excited that she made a special appointment for us every year, and she would come up with creative ideas on how to build up Joseph and Mary’s cave. As my twin brother and I grew up, she let us help her in making the river and the sky more realistic, or in better securing the angel so it wouldn’t fall from the mountain. One of my favorite parts was the task of carrying the magi figurines every day closer and closer to the manger. For my brother and me, it was a special time and we used to fight for the responsibility because it made the story so real.

But I mentioned that I had mixed feelings, and that is because my dad didn’t like this tradition of ours one bit. Every year I saw his face, filled with worry for us, keeping a distance from these plastic dolls as if they were something dangerous, as if somehow they would put us all in trouble. I couldn’t understand why he told us we shouldn’t focus our attention on the scene or the images, why he was so worried we would end up worshiping that baby plastic Jesus. I was shocked to hear him say so, and I kept asking myself: Why would I worship a plastic thing? I knew that was not Jesus.

I knew this, but I also knew that his anguish was real.

Years later at art school, we studied artists in history who illustrated and decorated churches since the early times of Christianity. As some of you know, in Spain, there are Catholic churches in almost every town. Many of these buildings are ancient, and whenever I went to visit one I admired with wonder all the artistic finery. I couldn’t help but connect my childhood memories, those marvelous structures, and the emptiness my local church seemed to have in comparison. Added to this, while I learned more and more history of my country, some of this imagery became loaded with the civil war memories, and the scars of war that as a country we are carrying still. So, yes. I still have mixed feelings of wonder, terror, and sadness.

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Joyce Meyer – Come Closer!


Come close to God…and He will come close to you… — James 4:8 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Not everyone is willing to pay the price required to be close to God. Not everyone is willing to simply take the time required or make the investments needed for spiritual growth.

God doesn’t ask for all of our time. He certainly wants us to do things we don’t consider “spiritual.” He designed us with bodies, souls (minds, wills, and emotions), and spirits, and He expects us to take care of all these areas.

Exercising our bodies and caring for our souls takes time and effort. Our emotions need to be ministered to; we need to have fun and be entertained, and we need to enjoy being with other people. Our minds need to grow and be renewed daily. In addition, we have a spiritual nature that needs attention. To stay balanced and healthy, we must take time to take care of our entire being.

I believe the whole issue of intimacy with God is a matter of time. We say we don’t have time to seek God, but the truth is that we take time to do the things that are most important to us.

Even though we all have to fight distractions every day, if knowing God and hearing from Him is important to us then we will find time to do it. Don’t try to work God into your schedule, but instead work your schedule around time with Him.

Getting to know God is a long-term investment, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get instant results. Be determined to honor Him with your time and you will reap the benefits.

Prayer Starter: Father, I can’t live without You. Help me to put You first in my life and take the time to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Can Know the Spirit’s Fullness


“Be filled…with the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him” (Ephesians 5:18).

An enthusiastic, attractive couple traveled from their home in Chicago to Arrowhead Springs to share with me an idea about which they were very excited.

“We heard one of your filmed lectures on ‘How to Be Filled With the Holy Spirit.’ Our lives have been dramatically changed as a result of what you shared,” they said. “We have come all this way to encourage you to go on nationwide television and tell Christians how they can know the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit and experience His revolutionary impact in and through their lives.”

I am humbly grateful to God for the privilege of sharing these great truths concerning the Holy Spirit with tens of millions of people throughout the world, often with the same dramatic results experienced by this remarkable couple.

The disciples were with Jesus for more than three years. They heard Him teach as no man had ever taught. They saw Him perform miracles such as no man had ever performed – raising the dead, restoring sight to the blind and cleansing lepers. Though they were exposed to the most godly life ever lived on earth, during Jesus’ time of crisis, Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him and all the others deserted Him.

Jesus knew His disciples were fruitless, quarreling, ambitious, self-centered men, so – on the eve of His crucifixion – He told them, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I go, I will send Him to you…He will guide you into all the truth…He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you” (John 16:7,13,14 NAS).

Bible Reading:Galatians 5:5, 16-18, 22, 23, 25

Today’s Action Point: Today I will receive by faith the power of the Holy Spirit in order to live a supernatural life and be a supernatural witness. I will continue to study the scriptural reference and various books concerning the Holy Spirit, so that I will better understand His role in my life.

Max Lucado – The Effects of Fear


Listen to Today’s Devotion

Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions.  And, as a result, we face fears.  It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart.  It’s whom we discover in the storm— an unstirred Christ.

Matthew 8:24 says, “Jesus was sleeping.”  Now there’s a scene. The disciples scream, yet Jesus dreams.  “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness.  It unleashes a swarm of anger-stirring doubts. Fear creates a form of spiritual amnesia.  It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how good God is.  Jesus takes our fears seriously.  Don’t be afraid.

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

Denison Forum – The most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft

What do NASA scientists and the lead guitarist for the rock band Queen have in common? A bowling pin-shaped rock four billion miles from Earth that is making world headlines today.

Ultima Thule is a billion miles on the other side of Pluto. The space rock is approximately twenty miles long by ten miles wide and seems to spin like a propeller through space. It could also be two objects in orbit around each other.

The object was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope four years ago and named 2014 MU69. A public campaign hosted by NASA renamed it–“Ultima Thule” is a reference to the most distant place beyond the borders of the known world.

Yesterday, the NASA spacecraft New Horizons conducted a successful flyby of this remote space object. Over the next few days, scientists expect to receive more photographs of the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft. Because the probe is so far from Earth, scientists say data on Ultima Thule will continue streaming to us until September 2020.

Brian May, the lead guitarist for Queen and an astrophysicist, is a participating scientist on the New Horizons project. He wrote a song to honor the mission.

Traveling 31,000 miles an hour

We could focus this morning on NASA’s stunning achievement.

New Horizon measures only 7.2 by 6.9 by 8.9 feet. This tiny space probe is blazing through space in excess of 31,000 miles per hour. The scientific ingenuity and sophistication required to engineer and operate such a device are truly remarkable.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft