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

 

http://www.intouch.org/

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.

 

http://www.odb.org

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).

 

http://www.rzim.org/

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.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

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.

http://www.maxlucado.com

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/