Charles Stanley – Our Circle of Influence

 

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

We hear much today about being a person of influence. Although some of us may be connected to many people, there are others whose lives may seem small in comparison. However, the important issue is not numbers but faithfulness. The Lord has determined the personality and abilities of every believer, as well as our individual spheres of influence.

No matter how vast or limited our connections are, we can each be used effectively by God to influence others as we follow His instructions.

Stand firm in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:15). We must make sure that our life is grounded in biblical truth. Otherwise, we could lead others astray.

Continue in every good work and word (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). People watch us, and what we say and do affects them more than we may imagine. That’s why it is so important to make sure our attitude, speech, and conduct reflect Jesus Christ.

Develop a lifestyle of prayer (2 Thessalonians 3:1). Praying for others and for opportunities to share the gospel is essential for effective ministry. It prepares their hearts to hear and our minds to know what to say. The simplest words can have amazing results when the Lord is directing our efforts.

Keep obeying the Lord (2 Thessalonians 3:4). Godly influence will only be achieved if we ourselves are godly. When we are living obediently before the Lord, He will be faithful to open doors of influence according to His will (Revelation 3:8).

If you will make it your ambition to become faithful in all these ways, you can be confident that the Lord will use your life to influence others for good and for His glory.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 12-14

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Spirit of Fika

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 12–14; Mark 5:21–43

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.

Luke 24:30

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 24:28-35

The coffeehouse in the town near my house is named Fika. It’s a Swedish word meaning to take a break with coffee and a pastry, always with family, co-workers, or friends. I’m not Swedish, yet the spirit of fika describes one thing I love most about Jesus—His practice of taking a break to eat and relax with others.

Scholars say Jesus’s meals weren’t random. Theologian Mark Glanville calls them “the delightful ‘second course’” of Israel’s feasts and celebrations in the Old Testament. At the table, Jesus lived what God had intended Israel to be: “a center of joy, celebration and justice for the whole world.”

From the feeding of 5,000, to the Last Supper—even to the meal with two believers after His resurrection (Luke 24:30)—the table ministry of Jesus invites us to stop our constant striving and abide in Him. Indeed, not until eating with Jesus did the two believers recognize Him as the risen Lord. “He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened” (vv. 30–31) to the living Christ.

Sitting with a friend recently at Fika, enjoying hot chocolate and rolls, we found ourselves also talking of Jesus. He is the Bread of Life. May we linger at His table and find more of Him.

By Patricia Raybon

Today’s Reflection

Lord, thank You for making time and room for us to abide at Your table.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Wisdom Embodied

 

One of the tragic casualties of our age has been that of the contemplative life—a life that thinks, a life thinks things through, and more particularly, thinks God’s thoughts. A person sitting at his or her desk staring out the window would never be assumed to be working. No! Thinking is not equated with work. Yet, had Newton under his tree, or Archimedes in his bathtub, bought into that prejudice, some natural laws would still be up in the air or buried under an immovable rock. Pascal’s Pensees, or “Thoughts,” a work that has inspired millions, would have never been penned.

What is even more destructive is the assumption that silence is inimical to life. The radio in the car, Muzak in the elevator, and the symphony entertaining callers “on hold” all add up as grave impediments to personal reflection. In effect, the mind is denied the privilege of living with itself even briefly and is crowded with outside impulses to cope with aloneness. Aldous Huxley’s indictment, “Most of one’s life… is one prolonged effort to prevent thinking,” seems frightfully true. Moreover, the price paid for this scenario has been devastating. As T.S. Eliot questioned:

Where is the life we have lost in the living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries

bring us farther from God and nearer to dust.

Is there a remedy? May I make some suggestions? Nothing ranks higher for mental discipline than a planned and systematic study of God’s Word, from whence life’s parameters and values are planted and Christ is made known. Paul, who loved his books and parchments, affirmed the priority of Scripture as the means to encountering Christ. And Psalm 119 promises that the God who speaks to us keeps us from being double-minded.

The average person today actually surrenders the intellect to the world, presuming Christianity to be bereft of intelligence. And many a pulpit has succumbed to the lie that anything intellectual cannot be spiritual or exciting.

Thankfully there are exceptions. When living in England, our family attended a church where preaching was taken quite seriously and one-hour sermons to packed auditoriums were the norm. Cambridge, being rife with skepticism, demanded a meticulous defense of each sermon text. When we were leaving Cambridge, our youngest child, who was nine years old, declared the preaching of this church to be one of his fondest memories. Even as a little boy he had learned that when the mind is rightly approached, it filters down to the heart. The matter I share here has far-reaching implications. We do a disservice to our youth by not crediting them with the capacity to think.

God places great value on the thought-life and its capacity to shape all of life. “As one thinks in his heart, so is he,” Solomon wrote. Jesus asserted that sin’s gravity lay at the level of the idea itself, not just the act. Paul admonished the church at Philippi to have the mind of Christ, and to the same people he wrote: “[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). The follower of Christ must demonstrate to the world what it means not just to think, but to think justly. That is, in the words of aging David to his son Solomon, to “acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

With hearts, minds, and bodies, we can follow the God of creation and the Son who stepped into it. After all, it is not that I think, therefore, I am, but rather, the great I Am has asked us to think, and therefore, we must.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – See Possibilities

 

The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. — Exodus 14:15-16

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses felt very inadequate and kept telling God what he could not do and did not have.

God asked him what he had in his hand and Moses replied, “A rod.” It was an ordinary rod, used for herding sheep. God told him to throw it down, implying that Moses was to give it to Him. When God gave the rod back to Moses, it was filled with miracle-working power and was used by Moses to part the Red Sea as well as for other miracles.

If you will give God what you have, no matter how little and ineffective you may think it is, God will use it and give you back more than you gave Him.

In other words, it is not our abilities that God desires, but it is our availability He wants. He wants us to see possibilities, not problems. Don’t spend your life thinking “if only” you had something else, then you could do something worthwhile. “If only” is a thief of what could be.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I make myself available to You, just as I am. Please use me to do Your will, and help me to begin seeing possibilities everywhere I go. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Anything You Ask

 

“You can get anything – anything you ask for in prayer – if you believe” (Matthew 21:22).

God’s Word reminds us that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). Jesus said, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7, KJV).

A godly widow with six children was facing great stress. The family had eaten their last loaf of bread at the evening meal. The next morning, with no food in the house, the trusting mother set seven plates on the table.

“Now, children,” she said, gathering them around her, “we must ask God to supply our need.”

Just as she finished her prayer, one of the children shouted, “There’s the baker at the door.”

“I was stalled in the snow,” the baker said, after entering the house,” and I just stopped by to get warm. Do you need any bread this morning?”

“Yes,” said the mother, “but we have no money.”

“Do you mean to say you have no bread for these children?” he asked.

“Not a bit,” said the mother.

“Well,” said the baker, “you will soon have some.” Whereupon he returned to his wagon, picked up seven loaves and brought them into the house. Then he laid one on each plate.

“Mama!” one of the children cried out. “I prayed for bread, and God heard me and sent me bread.”

“And me!” chorused each of the children, feeling that God had answered personally.

God does not require us to have great faith. We are simply to have faith in a great God.

Bible Reading: Mark 11:20-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will continue to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in my heart, so that when needs arise today – whether large or small; physical, material or spiritual – I will choose to place my simple faith in God, knowing that He is willing and able to hear and answer prayer. I will also encourage others to join me in the great adventure of prayer.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Greenhouse of the Heart

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Proverbs 4:23 advises us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Think of your heart as a greenhouse and consider your thoughts as seed.  We must be selective about the seeds we allow to come into the greenhouse.

To have a pure heart, we must submit all thoughts to the authority of Christ.  You see, your mind is the doorway to your heart.  The Holy Spirit stands with you on the threshold, helping you manage and filter the thoughts that try to enter.  If Jesus agrees with the thought, then let it in.  If not, kick it out.  How do you know if Jesus agrees or disagrees?  You open your Bible. Armed with the opinion of Christ and the sword of the Spirit, guard the doorway of your heart. The more selective you are about seeds, the more delighted you will be with the crop.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – What the Oscars teach us about significance

In a surprise, Green Book won last night’s Academy Award for Best Picture. Rami Malek and Olivia Colman won for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Leading Role; Mahershala Ali and Regina King won for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

For everyone who won an Oscar, last night’s ceremony was a pinnacle moment that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

For the rest of us, however, the transience of awards like last night’s Oscars is noteworthy. Who won last year for Best Actor? Best Actress? Best Picture? Who won the year before that?

We’ve already had the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Critics’ Choice Awards, and the Grammys. Do you remember who won what? We could ask the same question about past winners of the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup, and so on.

There’s a reason our culture pays so much attention to short-lived successes.

“Wealthy, successful and miserable”

Richard Rorty was one of America’s most influential thinkers. The longtime Princeton and Stanford professor was a leading voice for the relativism that has captured our culture. He claimed: “There is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves.” He added that “truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with.”

If we reject the supernatural, the only prism by which to see the world is the natural. And the natural cannot see beyond itself. Like rose-colored glasses that turn everything rose-colored, we assume that all we see is all that exists.

Continue reading Denison Forum – What the Oscars teach us about significance