Charles Stanley – Our Testimony

 

Colossians 4:1-6

Think about the last argument you had with someone. Generally, disagreements arise when two people see things differently. Part of the problem is that most issues can be seen from diverse perspectives. Therefore, it’s easy for people to take opposing sides on a subject since they make different assumptions based on the same facts.

This can present a problem when we witness to people. Our goal isn’t to start a debate but to share the gospel. If someone objects to what we say, we could become sidetracked with arguments. However, we each have one thing that no one else can refute: our personal testimony. This isn’t an issue for debate but an opportunity to explain our own experience and the results of our decision to follow Christ.

Realize that every believer has a powerful weapon in his spiritual arsenal. When you share what Christ has done in your life, no one else can say, “That’s not right,” or “That didn’t really happen.” Our testimony of faith is our own credible, first-hand, eyewitness narrative of the power of God.

That’s why it’s important that we be prepared to share our story. Opportunities often come unexpectedly, and we don’t want to let the moment pass simply because we’re not sure what to say.

This week set aside a few moments to think about your history with Christ and sketch an outline of your faith story. Then ask Him to open a door for you to share the message of Jesus Christ. Then when an opportunity comes, you’ll be ready to share what Christ has done in your own life.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 3-5

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — He Holds Our Hand

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 4–6; Mark 4:1–20

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 41:8-13

The little girl who navigated the stairway one Sunday at church was cute, spunky, and independent. One by one the child—who appeared to be not much older than two years—took the steps down to the lower level. Descending the stairs was her mission and she accomplished it. I smiled to myself as I pondered the daring independence of this courageous toddler. The child wasn’t afraid because she knew her caring mother’s watchful eye was always on her and her loving hand was extended to help her. This aptly pictures the Lord’s readiness to help His children as they make their way through life with its varied uncertainties.

Today’s Scripture includes two “hand” references. After cautioning His ancient people not to fear or be dismayed, the Lord told them, “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Many anxious and fearful children have been steadied by the strength of a parent. Here God’s power comes into view. In the second “hand” reference, once again it’s the Lord who acted to secure the safety of His own. “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand” (v. 13). While life situations and times have changed, the Lord hasn’t. We need not despair (v. 10) because the Lord still assures us with the promise of His support and with the words we desperately need to hear: “Do not fear” (vv. 10, 13).

By Arthur Jackson

Today’s Reflection

Father, thank You for always watching over me.

For help, read Navigating the Storms of Life at discoveryseries.org/hp061

 

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – God’s Vision for You

 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. — Jeremiah 29:11

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God’s plan for the people of the nation of Israel was only for their good. Yet they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years on what was actually an 11-day journey. Why? Was it their enemies, their circumstances, the trials along the way, or something entirely different that prevented them from arriving at their destination in a timely manner?

God called the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to go to the land He had promised to give them as a perpetual inheritance—a land that flowed with milk and honey and every good thing they could imagine—a land in which there would be no shortage of anything they needed—a land of prosperity in every realm of their existence.

But the Israelites had no positive vision for their lives—no dreams. They knew where they came from, but they did not know where they were going. Everything was based on what they had seen in the past or what they could presently see. They did not know how to see with “the eye of faith.”

We really shouldn’t view the Israelites with astonishment, because most of us do the same thing they did. We keep dealing with the same problems over and over again. The disappointing result is that it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have and should have been dealt with quickly.

I come from a background of abuse. My childhood was filled with fear and torment, and my personality was a mess! I built up walls of protection to keep people from hurting me, not realizing that while I was locking others out, I was also locking myself in. I was filled with fear and believed that the only way I could face life was to be in control so no one could hurt me.

As a young adult trying to live for Christ and follow the Christian lifestyle, I knew where I had come from, but I did not know where I was going. I felt that my future would always be marred by my past. I thought, How could anyone with a past like mine ever be all right? It’s impossible!

But Jesus had a different plan. He said, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me…to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity](Luke 4:18 AMPC).

Jesus came to open the prison doors and set the captives free—and that included me. However, I did not make any progress until I started to believe that I really could be set free. I had to get rid of my negative thinking and replace it with a positive vision for my life. I had to believe that neither my past nor my present could determine my future. Only then could Jesus free me from the bondage of my past—and free me, He did. What a marvelous miracle!

You may have had a miserable past; you may even be in current circumstances that are very negative and depressing. You may be facing situations that are so bad it seems you have no real reason to hope. But I say to you boldly: Your future is not determined by your past or your present!

Most of the generation the Lord called out of Egypt never entered into the Promised Land. Instead, they died in the wilderness. To me, this is one of the saddest things that can happen to a child of God—to have so much available and yet never be able to enjoy any of it.

Start believing that God’s Word is true. Mark 9:23 assures you that with God all things are possible. Because you serve a God who created everything you see out of the unseen realm (see Hebrews 11:3), you can give Him your nothingness and watch Him go to work on your behalf. All you have to do is have faith in Him and believe His Word—He will do the rest!

Prayer Starter: Dear Father, I thank You for loving me and having a vision—a good plan—for my life. I pray that You will help me overcome any negative thoughts of problems, past or present, that come against my mind, and make my life what You want it to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Inherit My Holy Mountain

 

“Let’s see if the whole collection of your idols can help you when you cry to them to save you! They are so weak that the wind can carry them off! A breath can puff them away. But he who trusts in Me shall possess the land and inherit My Holy Mountain” (Isaiah 57:13).

It was the very last week prior to our deadline for raising two million dollars to purchase the property at Arrowhead Springs for our international Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters. A dear friend had offered a $300,000 matching fund as a gift if we could raise the balance of the $2 million by a certain date.

Because of a very heavy speaking schedule at both the student and faculty conferences held at Arrowhead, I was unable to make any significant contribution to the raising of funds. And yet somehow in my heart of hearts I knew that God was going to supply our need in a miraculous way.

The late Dr. V. Raymond Edman, then president of Wheaton College, was one of the featured speakers at the conferences. At breakfast, one day Dr. Edman shared with my wife, Vonette, and me this very meaningful verse in Isaiah – a verse that God had impressed upon him that morning to share with us as he prayed about our urgent financial needs.

Now we were all the more encouraged to believe God in an even greater way than before. We truly expected to see Him provide the remaining funds – miraculously. In the evening of the day of the deadline, I was informed that we still needed $33,000 and that every possible source of revenue had been exhausted. There was nothing more, humanly speaking, we could do. Yet, through a series of circumstances between 11:00 and midnight, those funds were pledged, and we met the deadline. Exactly at midnight, the last of God’s miracles had been wrought and the goal had been reached. God had promised, “He who trusts in Me shall possess the land and inherit My Holy Mountain” – Arrowhead Springs.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 57:10-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Whether the need be for funds, for health, for wisdom, or whatever, I will believe God to supply my every need as He has so wonderfully promised in His Word to those who trust in Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – An Honest Heart

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In Acts 1:8 Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.”  We are God’s witnesses.  And we are to speak truthfully.  God loves the truth and God hates deceit.  But Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things.” How do we explain our dishonesty?

Well, for one thing, we don’t like the truth because the truth isn’t always fun.  The wages of deceit is death.  Not death of the body, perhaps, but death of a marriage, a conscience, a career, or faith.  But perhaps the most tragic death that occurs from deceit is our witness. Examine your heart.  Do you tell the truth…always?  If not, start today.  Be just like Jesus.  Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Which are the “most sinful states” in the US?

 

A new study has compared America’s fifty states using forty-three indicators of immorality. The data set ranges from violent crimes to excessive drinking to gambling disorders.

Unsurprisingly, Nevada ranks first, primarily because of “greed” and “lust.” Florida comes in second because of “jealousy,” “lust,” and “vanity.” The rest of the top (or bottom) ten in order: California, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and Arizona. The least sinful states in order are Vermont, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho.

Sin may be measured collectively, but it is committed personally. And it never stays secret.

A Minnesota man was eating a hot dog at a hockey game last month. He wiped his mouth with a napkin and tossed the remains in the trash. Authorities then used DNA on the napkin to tie him to an unsolved murder from 1993.

In similar news, DNA from a genealogical database has led authorities to arrest a Colorado man for the murder of an eleven-year-old girl in 1973. Last fall, DNA evidence led to an arrest in a 1997 murder.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in the Jussie Smollett case say they have the $3,500 check used by the actor to pay two brothers to stage his assault last month. Smollett was arrested yesterday for allegedly filing a false report about the January 29 incident. After paying a $10,000 bond, he was released and is due back in court on March 14.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson alleged yesterday that the brothers’ motive for helping Smollett was money. “There was never a thought in their mind that we would be able to track them down,” he added.

Scripture warns us: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Why temptation is so tempting today

There’s something about temptation that causes us to think this warning doesn’t really apply to us. We will get away with it. No one will know, no one will be hurt, no consequences will follow. Or so we think.

Here’s why the temptation to yield to temptation is especially tempting in our culture.

Our post-Christian, relativistic society has jettisoned the concept of absolute truth and morality. In such a worldview, “sin” is a subjective idea rather than an objective reality.

What the Bible calls a “baby” (as when Elizabeth’s “baby leaped in her womb,” Luke 1:41), Planned Parenthood calls a “product of conception.” What the Bible calls “men committing shameless acts with men” (Romans 1:27), our culture calls “marriage equality.”

As a result, sins are no longer objectively sinful. It’s easier for Satan to tempt us to sin if we don’t believe in sin.

“There is no such thing as the devil”

It’s also easier for Satan to tempt us to sin if we don’t believe in him. A Barna survey found that nearly 60 percent of American Christians believe the devil “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”

An article in Psychology Today was blunt: “There is no such thing as the devil, just as there is no such thing as fairies, imps, or goblins. The two largest religions in the world–Christianity and Islam–teach that there is a devil. And they are wrong. There is no evidence for such a thing. Not a shred. It is simply something that germinated from the unscientific, irrational minds of early humans.”

Of course, that’s just what the devil wants us to think.

(For more, please watch Does Satan exist?, the most recent YouTube video from our new series, “Biblical Insight to Tough Questions.”)

The two categories of sin

The first step in defeating temptation is to admit that sin exists and the tempter is real. The second is to understand his strategy.

In essence, there are two categories of sin.

The first includes those temptations you and I can defeat in our ability. For instance, I happen not to be susceptible to illegal drugs. (I’m not boasting–there are other temptations to which I am far less immune). You can name sins that are easy for you not to commit.

The second category includes those temptations you and I cannot defeat in our ability. When we face these attacks, we need to turn immediately to God for help, knowing that “he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey” (Mark 1:27).

Here’s the problem: Satan seeks to mask these temptations so that we think they belong to the first category. That way, we’ll try to resist them in our strength rather than turning to God for his help. Satan wants to draw us into spiritual quicksand a foot at a time until we are trapped.

The solution is for us to take all temptation immediately to God, asking for his strength to refuse. Here’s how: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Submit and you can resist. Resist and you will win. Every time.

If you think you’re getting away with sin

Let’s close with two additional life principles.

One: Satan is playing the long game.

When we defeat him with God’s help, he will bring this temptation against us again later. He wants us to think we didn’t win the victory since we’re facing the same temptation.

After Jesus defeated him in the wilderness, the devil “departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). He does the same with us. Every time we face temptation, even the same temptation, we must “submit” and “resist.”

Two: The time to repent is now.

If you think you’re getting away with sin, you’re not. The enemy might be waiting until you climb further up the ladder so that your fall will hurt even more people as you plummet down.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19) is a present-tense imperative, an ongoing command for each of us.

Is it relevant for you today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Every Man Ministries – Facing Truth

 

 “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

Facing up to the truth always produces a loss of some kind of income, a pastime you enjoy, your image in the community, a wrong relationship, or the companionship of certain friends.  Jesus knows a man must risk, but He also knows what’s waiting on the other side: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).

When we are confronted with the truth about where God wants us to go in our spiritual journey, we can choose the paths that leads to health, wholeness, and God’s glory.  Furthermore, we then have the confidence and humility to keep making the needed adjustments for Him.

God is in the business of confronting us for our benefit, to heal us from our bondage to whatever, guilt, shame, depression, and hatever brings us into self-absorption.  These surgeries of the soul require faith in the Surgeon and His promised outcomes.  Those who accept “going under the knife” often make the necessary changes to turn things around in their lives.

Winston Churchill once said, “Personally, I am always ready to learn although I do not always like to be taught.”  His point is that coming under the direction of another person has it‘s own built-in tension, despite the value of the truth to be discovered from the experience.  At least Churchill was being honest. Seeing and accepting truth requires action, but action – doing something – often produces tension.

Father, it is your will that I am free from the bondage of whatever brings me down. Tighten up my belt of truth.

 

Every Man Ministries.