Charles Stanley – Jesus: Our Intimate Friend

 

Matthew 26:47-50

I’ve counseled plenty of people who argue that they are not worthy of God’s love. Of all the passages I could point to that describe the Lord’s devotion, today’s is the one I think best showcases the unqualified friendship He offers His followers—even when they become wayward.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was praying at Gethsemane when Judas Iscariot approached with a band of men. The betrayer stepped forward and kissed the Lord. And what was Jesus’ response? According to Matthew, one of the other disciples, the Lord called the man “friend.” (See Matt. 26:50.)

Judas expected Jesus to establish His kingdom on earth and drive the Romans out of Israel—surely anyone who could calm a storm at sea could easily remove an oppressive government! But Judas’s interest in Jesus was more personal and political than spiritual. In fact, John reported that his fellow disciple stole from the money box (John 12:6). Today the man’s name is synonymous with those who betray others for personal gain.

In spite of Judas’s greed, blind ambition, and betrayal, Jesus never stopped loving him—and still used the word “friend” to address the disciple. The Lord does not place conditions on His love or reject people who fail to meet certain standards. He simply cares for us as we are.

We cannot earn Jesus Christ’s love and friendship. He takes the initiative, reaches out, and draws into fellowship those who are willing. None of us are worthy, but we are privileged to live in His love anyway. In the Lord, we find a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).

Bible in One Year: Genesis 12-15

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Walking in the Light

 

Read: Hebrews 12:18–24 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 10–12; Matthew 4

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:4

Darkness descended on our forest village when the moon disappeared. Lightning slashed the skies, followed by a rainstorm and crackling thunder. Awake and afraid, as a child I imagined all kinds of grisly monsters about to pounce on me! By daybreak, however, the sounds vanished, the sun rose, and calm returned as birds jubilated in the sunshine. The contrast between the frightening darkness of the night and the joy of the daylight was remarkably sharp.

The author of Hebrews recalls the time when the Israelites had an experience at Mount Sinai so dark and stormy they hid in fear (Exodus 20:18–19). For them, God’s presence, even in His loving gift of the law, felt dark and terrifying. This was because, as sinful people, the Israelites couldn’t live up to God’s standards. Their sin caused them to walk in darkness and fear (Hebrews 12:18–21).

But God is light; in Him there’s no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). In Hebrews 12, Mount Sinai represents God’s holiness and our old life of disobedience, while the beauty of Mount Zion represents God’s grace and believers’ new life in Jesus, “the mediator of a new covenant” (vv. 22–24).

Whoever follows Jesus will “never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Through Him, we can let go of the darkness of our old life and celebrate the joy of walking in the light and beauty of His kingdom.

If you’re a believer in Jesus, how has your life changed since He came into it? What are some ways you’d like to grow in your faith?

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for bringing me out of darkness into Your marvelous light. Help me to avoid the darkness to continue walking in the light toward eternity.

By Lawrence Darmani

INSIGHT

No author is identified for the book of Hebrews. Scholarly speculation regarding potential authors ranges from Paul to Barnabas to Luke to Apollos, and even to Aquila and Priscilla. What are we to conclude about this ongoing, centuries-old debate? First, the very fact that there is so much speculation clearly reveals that no particular view can be totally proven. Second, human authorship is less of a problem if we understand that, by means of the inspiration of Scripture, the ultimate author is in fact the Holy Spirit who inspired it (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20–21).

For more on Bible background, check out Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Truth of the Bible at discoveryseries.org/q0411.

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Best of Times

The opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities have given the literary world one of the greatest precursory statements of all time. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” These famous words of Charles Dickens mark some of the best-known lines of literature, skillfully reflecting the novel’s central tension between opposing pairs and the ebbs and flows of an era.

In this occasion of the New Year we, too, are inclined to pause and reflect, to look back and look forward with thoughts and words that help us sift through the stories unfolding before us. Significant dates and holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, naturally lend themselves to times of reflection, the first of the year being perhaps the most confronting date (and certainly the best marketed) that calls us to reflect. That we have before us the month that marks another beginning of another year is unavoidable, even if merely seen as time to buy a new calendar or join another health club.

Armed with resolutions and lofty goals, many stare into the 365 days ahead of us with hope and expectation, sometimes with fear, sometimes with determination, other times with excitement. And we look at the days behind us with a careful eye for what is past, at times with nostalgia for all that has gone by, or heaviness for all we longed to see turn out differently, but hopefully with wisdom to carry into days to come. What were the year’s successes and failures? What will I accomplish this year? Where have I been? How far have we come along?

But the New Year is also a time to ask perhaps with a greater sense of existential angst, “Where am I going?” Or maybe even “Where did we come from?” In the pages of one major newspaper on New Year’s Day were articles discussing several up and coming self-improvement, self-discovery books for the New Year. In between advice for learning to embrace your life fully and tips for rehabilitating your sense of style, the author herself noted the inconsistency of the well-marketed, self-help world of reflecting. “If all these books are out there,” she asked, the question remains: “Why aren’t we well?” Such are inquiries worthy of the season.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Best of Times

Joyce Meyer – Living Large

 

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. — 2 Corinthians 9:8

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

When I feel like my “get up and go” has got up and gone, I purposely stir myself up through aggressive expectation!

God is the God of abundance, the one who wants us to live a large, free, and full life.

Dare to have big faith, big plans, and big ideas, because God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond all that you can ever dare to hope, ask, or think (see Ephesians 3:20 AMPC).

It is time to start asking God to do greater things! Have great expectations!

Don’t be afraid to ask God for big things. The truth is that you cannot ask for too much as long as your heart is right and you are willing to not only be blessed by God, but also be a blessing everywhere you go.

The Bible says God is searching for those in whom He can show Himself strong (see 2 Chronicles 16:9), and it can be you if you are willing to believe. You don’t need a perfect performance to qualify for God’s best; just love Him with all your heart. Don’t settle for less than the best life that you can have.

Prayer Starter: Amazing heavenly Father, I am humbled that You want to offer me an abundant life. I know that I don’t deserve Your goodness, but I do ask in faith that You would do great things for and through me. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Anything at All

 

“Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:14).

“What is the most important thought your mind has ever entertained?” someone once asked Daniel Webster, one of the greatest intellects in American history.

“My accountability to God,” he replied.

In John 14:14 we find a marvelous promise, one that surely gives ample reason for our accountability to God!

Yet, in the face of those overwhelming words, most Christians do not live joyful and fruitful lives. Why? Because they have a limited view of God. Most of us sit at God’s banquet table of blessing and come away with crumbs – simply because of our lack of knowledge of God and faith to trust and obey Him.

Nothing is so important in the Christian life as understanding the attributes of God. No one can ever begin to live supernaturally and have the faith to believe God for “great and mighty” things if he does not know what God is like, or if he harbors misunderstandings about God and His character.

Would you like to live a joyful, abundant and fruitful life – every day filled with adventure? You can!

What is God like to you? Is He a divine Santa Claus, a cosmic policeman, a dictator or a big bully? Many people have distorted views of God and as a result are afraid of Him because they do not know what He is really like.

Our heavenly Father yearns for us to respond to His love. It is only as we respond to a scriptural view of God that we are able to come joyfully into His presence and experience the love and adventure and abundant life for which He created us and which He promised us.

Bible Reading:Mark 11:22-26

Today’s Action Point: I will meditate upon John 14:14 throughout the day, and I will claim His provision for a need I have or know that someone else has.

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – We Can Fear Less Tomorrow

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In Matthew 8:26, Jesus asks, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”  That’s a good question.  Sometimes fear is healthy.  It can keep a child from running across a busy road.  It’s the appropriate reaction to a burning building or a growling dog.

Fear itself is not a sin.  But it can lead to sin.  If we medicate fear with angry outbursts, sullen withdrawals, or viselike control, we exclude God from the solution.  Fear may fill our world, but it doesn’t have to fill our hearts.  It will always knock on the door.  Just don’t invite it in for dinner.  The promise of Jesus is simple.  We can fear less tomorrow than we do today.

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Was George Washington a failure?

Poverty around the world is plummeting; half the world is now middle class; and illiteracy, disease and deadly violence are receding.” So reports the Wall Street Journal, probably to the surprise of many.

We might wonder if optimists are reading the same news as the rest of us. The stock market plunged yesterday after Apple warned it would miss its quarterly sales forecast due to weakening growth in China. The standoff over the partial government shutdown continues, with few predicting that today’s talks will make significant progress.

It even turns out that, according to The Smithsonianthe world’s oldest woman might have been her daughter masquerading as her mother.

Was George Washington a failure?

But, as Rick Newman points out in his book, Rebounders, the key to success is not a lack of failure but our response to it. Examples:

  • George Washington “lost more battles than he won during the Revolutionary War.”
  • Norman Vincent Peale’s wife rescued the manuscript of The Power of Positive Thinking from the trash after it had been rejected repeatedly by New York publishers; it became an all-time bestseller.
  • A 1914 fire destroyed Thomas Edison’s manufacturing operations, but the sixty-seven-year-old rebuilt and modernized factories that revolutionized technology.

According to Newman, “A whole body of scientific research has shown that overcoming setbacks can make people stronger, smarter, and more durable.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – Was George Washington a failure?