Charles Stanley – Developing a Vibrant Faith

 

Acts 9:1-6

The apostle Paul had a strong commitment to know and serve Jesus Christ. His passion and love for the Lord was obvious—Jesus was always central in his thinking, whether he was working as a tentmaker, preaching to the crowd, or even sitting in prison. What fueled his love for the Savior?

Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus was a motivating force in his life. Grateful for the gift of grace he had received at salvation, the apostle told many people about his encounter with the resurrected Christ and its impact on him. We, too, have a story to tell of God’s mercy, both in saving us and in giving us new life in Him.

Paul’s zeal also came from his firm conviction that the gospel message was true and available to everyone (John 3:16). On the cross, Jesus took all our sins—past, present, and future—upon Himself (1 Pet. 2:24). He suffered our punishment so that we might receive forgiveness and be brought into a right relationship with God. Through faith in Christ, we’ve been born again, and the indwelling Holy Spirit helps us every day (John 14:26). The more we understand what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, the greater will be our passion to share the gospel.

Developing a vibrant faith requires time and energy plus a commitment to obey the Lord. Regularly studying the Bible will strengthen your beliefs and give you courage to speak. Caring about the spiritual welfare of others will move you into action. Do you have a passion to serve Jesus wherever He leads?

Bible in One Year: Exodus 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sharing More Than Stuff

 

Bible in a Year:Genesis 39–40; Matthew 11

Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Ruth 1:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ruth 1:11-18

“But I don’t want to share!” wailed my youngest child, brokenhearted that he would have to part with even one of his many LEGO pieces. I rolled my eyes at his immaturity, but truthfully, this attitude is not limited to children. How much of my own life, and really all of human experience, is marked by a stubborn resistance to freely and generously give to others?

As believers in Jesus, we’re called to share our very lives with one another. Ruth did just that with her mother-in-law, Naomi. As a destitute widow, Naomi had little to offer Ruth. And yet Ruth connected her own life to her mother-in-law’s, vowing that they would press on together and that not even death would separate them. She said to Naomi, “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). She freely and generously gave to the older woman—showing love and compassion.

While sharing our lives in this way can be difficult, we should remember the fruit of such generosity. Ruth shared her life with Naomi, but later she bore a son, the grandfather of King David. Jesus shared His very life with us, but was then exalted and now reigns at the right hand of the Father in heaven. As we generously share with one another, we can be confident that we will experience greater life still!

By Peter Chin

Today’s Reflection

Jesus, as we share our lives with others, may we reflect Your loving heart.

Welcome to Peter Chin! Meet all our authors at odb.org/all-authors.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Crutch or a Cross

In Mere Apologetics, Alister McGrath points out that “one of the most familiar criticisms of Christianity is that it offers consolation to life’s losers.”(1) Believers are often caricatured as being somewhat weak and naïve—the kind of people who need their faith as a “crutch” just to get them through life. In new atheist literature, this depiction is often contrasted with the image of a hardier intellectual atheist who has no need for such infantile, yet comforting, nonsense. This type of portrayal may resonate with some, but does it really make sense?(2)

Firstly, it is helpful to define what we mean by a “crutch.” In a medical setting, the word obviously means an implement used by people for support when they are injured. The analogy implies, therefore, that those who need one are somehow deficient or wounded. In a sense, it is fairly obvious that the most vulnerable might need support, but as the agnostic John Humphrys points out, “Don’t we all? Some use booze rather than the Bible.”(3) As this suggests, it is not so much a question of whether you have one, but it is more of a question of what your particular crutch is. This is an important point to make, as people rely on all kinds of things for their comfort or self-esteem, ranging from material possessions, money, food, and aesthetics to cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and sex. Rather than being viewed as signs of weakness, many of these are even considered to be relatively normal in society, provided they don’t turn into the more destructive behavior associated with strong addiction. Nevertheless, many of these only offer a short-term release from the struggles of life and they sometimes only cover up deeper problems that a person might be suffering from. To suggest, therefore, that atheists are somehow stronger than believers is to deny the darker side of humanity, which is only too apparent if we look at the world around us. As McGrath explains:

“[I]f you have a broken leg, you need a crutch. If you’re ill you need medicine. That’s just the way things are. The Christian understanding of human nature is that we are damaged, wounded and disabled by sin. That’s just the way things are.“(4)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Crutch or a Cross

Joyce Meyer – Take Responsibility

 

Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. — Proverbs 23:12

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

any times in my meetings, someone has asked me to pray for physical healing. I do pray for people, but I also know that many times what people really need is to take personal responsibility for their health and well-being.

Often, their physical problems can be solved by improving their health—eating better, exercising, drinking more water, getting enough sleep at night, or taking time for leisure, recreation, and relaxation.

In what specific areas do you need to take responsibility to improve the quality of your life?

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to take at least one step today towards better health. My body is the temple of Your Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19), and I want to take care of this gift You have given me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Supernatural Power of Praise

 

“With Jesus’ help we will continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by telling others of the glory of His name. Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to Him” (Hebrews 13:15,16).

Sometimes, in my busy schedule which takes me from country to country and continent to continent, my body is weary, my mind is fatigued, and if I am not careful, my heart will grow cold. I have learned to meditate on the many blessings of God and to praise Him as an act of the will. As I do so, my heart begins to warm and I sense the presence of God.

The psalmist often catalogued the blessings of God and found new reason to praise Him. I would like to share with you several reasons why I believe praise of God is so important in the life of the believer.

1) God is truly worthy of praise.

2) Praise draws us closer to God.

3) All who praise God are blessed.

4) Praise is contagious.

5) Satan’s power is broken when we praise God.

6) Praise is a witness to carnal Christians and non-Christians.

7) Praise opens our hearts and minds to receive God’s message.

8) Praise is a form of sacrifice.

9) Praise makes for a more joyful life.

10) Praise enhances human relationships.

11) Praise is a supernatural expression of faith.

A further elaboration of the benefits and power of praise is found in my book Believing God for the Impossible. An entire chapter is devoted to this exciting subject.

With the promise of His blessings, so clearly delineated by the psalmist, comes the privilege and responsibility of offering up sacrifices of praise, and this leads to a supernatural life made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Bible Reading:Jeremiah 33:9-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT I will look deliberately today for reasons to praise my heavenly Father, knowing that I will find many. Whether I feel like it or not, I will praise Him throughout the day, seek to do good and to share His love with others, knowing that such sacrifices are pleasing to Him.

 

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Max Lucado – God’s Heart for Hurting Parents

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jairus heard two voices and had to choose which one to heed.  The first from the servants in Luke 8:49,  “Your daughter is dead.”  The second from Jesus in verse 50, “Don’t be afraid.”

We need to know what Jesus will do when we entrust our kids to him.  In the story of Jairus, Jesus united the household.  In verse 51 “he let only Peter, John, James, and the girl’s father and mother go inside with him.”  Next, he banished unbelief…the scoffers.  “He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’”

God has a heart for hurting parents.  After all, God himself is a father.  Keep giving your child to God, and in the right time and the right way, God will give your child back to you.

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Does new Gillette ad insult men?

Thirty years ago, Gillette made famous the tagline, “The Best A Man Can Get.” The company launched the slogan at Super Bowl XXIII in January 1989, kicking off an $80 million campaign in nineteen North American and European nations. The slogan was translated into fourteen languages.

Procter & Gamble acquired Gillette in 2005 and continued to use its iconic tagline. This week, the company released a new ad calling on men to reject bullying and sexism. “The Best a Man Can Be” is the theme.

Reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. The ad currently has more than twice as many dislikes as likes. Critics say it insults men and is filled with stereotypes. And, as Forbes notes, consumers are skeptical of profit-motivated companies telling them how to behave.

Is “traditional masculine ideology” the problem?

The Gillette ad is just the latest skirmish in a growing battle over masculinity in America. The facts are alarming:

In response, the American Psychological Association recently released “Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.” The APA’s publication is founded on the postmodern belief that “masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms.”

According to the APA, “It is critical to acknowledge that gender is a non-binary construct.” In other words, we are not simply men or women–gender is “fluid” and determined by a host of factors, only one of which is a person’s biological sex at birth. As a result, the APA wants to help men “create their own concepts of what it means to be male.”

The APA identifies the problem as “traditional masculinity ideology,” which it characterizes as “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”

The Colson Center’s John Stonestreet responds: “That’s not how I define traditional masculinity. Anti-femininity? Violence? That sounds like being a jerk.”

He’s right.

“It is not good that the man should be alone”

David French notes in National Review that “grown men are the solution, not the problem.” He calls on men to shape their inherent aggression, sense of adventure, and default physical strength for virtuous ends.

In his view, we need more fathers to raise sons with discipline, respect, and encouragement. I encourage you to read his thoughtful analysis in its entirety.

While I agree with French, I’d like to point to a biblical balance vital to the well-being of all people.

On one hand, “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Work and keep translate Hebrew words meaning to improve and guard. Men were created to produce and protect, to work and provide.

On the other hand, men were not intended to be self-sufficient. Immediately after creating the first man, God created the first woman, explaining: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (v. 18). To fulfill their life purpose, men need women, other men, and especially their Father.

“One thing a clenched fist cannot do”

Self-reliance is a destructive illusion. “No man is an island” is not just a poem–it’s a fact.

As I have often noted, self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide. It cuts us off from the only true source of abundant life (John 10:10).

Frederick Buechner: “To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do–to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst–is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life comes from.”

Buechner adds that “the one thing a clenched fist cannot do is accept, even from [God] himself, a helping hand.”

How to become “the best a man can be”

Jesus Christ was the perfect male.

He was strong enough to drive money changers from the temple (Matthew 21:12) but gentle enough to embrace children (Matthew 19:13-15). He was courageous enough to confront the corrupt leaders of his nation (Matthew 23) but compassionate enough to weep for them (Luke 19:41).

Now he is praying for us (Romans 8:34) as his Spirit works to transform us into his character (v. 29). He is ready to help every man become “the best a man can be.” And every woman to become the best she can be as well.

Nick Foles is proof. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback is anyone’s definition of a “true man.” He has set NFL passing records, been named Offensive Most Valuable Player in the Pro Bowl, and won last year’s Super Bowl, where he was the game’s Most Valuable Player.

He wore his WWJD bracelet in the championship game. More than 100 million people saw his faith on display. I noticed the bracelet on his wrist again during last Sunday’s playoff game with the Saints. Foles plans to become a student pastor when he retires from football one day.

Let’s ask “What would Jesus do?” all through this day. Then let’s ask him to help us do it. We will be our best and the people we serve will be blessed, to the glory of God.

 

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