Charles Stanley – What Takes Place After Salvation


John 3:16-17

To truly grasp what Jesus did for us on the cross—and to be able to share the gospel effectively—it’s essential to have an accurate understanding of the terms we use to describe salvation.

Saved (Eph. 2:8). This is a synonym for rescued. Mankind needs rescuing because without Jesus, we are all destined for divine wrath, hell, and eternal separation from God.

Redeemed (Eph. 1:7). Redemption implies a transaction. Our salvation was purchased through the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood.

Justified (Rom. 5:1). When someone trusts in Christ, God pardons that person and removes his or her guilt. A saved individual is in right standing with the Lord.

Reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Salvation results in a relationship with God. We were once separated from Him, but now we are His sons and daughters, and He calls us His friends (John 15:15).

Using words like redemption, justification, and reconciliation might not be effective when presenting the gospel to someone unfamiliar with the language often used in church. However, it’s important for us to understand what the Bible teaches about salvation, and these terms give us a framework for explaining the good news to others.

We must recognize that we are not saved by our personal works or performance. Salvation is ours by God’s grace—His unmerited, undeserved, loving favor toward us—and at the cost of Jesus’ own blood. Let us not take for granted how God has rescued us: by sending His Son to die in our place.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 18-20

Our Daily Bread — Out of the Mouths of Babes


Bible in a Year:Numbers 17–19; Mark 6:30–56

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes.

Psalm 8:2 esv

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 21:14-16

After watching ten-year-old Viola using a tree branch as a microphone to mimic a preacher, Michele decided to give Viola the opportunity to “preach” during a village outreach. Viola accepted. Michele, a missionary in South Sudan, wrote, “The crowd was enraptured. . . . A little girl who had been abandoned stood in authority before them as a daughter of the King of kings, powerfully sharing the reality of God’s Kingdom. Half the crowd came forward to receive Jesus” (Michele Perry, Love Has a Face).

The crowd that day hadn’t expected to hear a child preach. This incident brings to mind the phrase “out of the mouths of babes,” which comes from Psalm 8. David wrote, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes” (v. 2 esv). Jesus later quoted this verse in Matthew 21:16, after the chief priests and scribes criticized the children calling out praise to Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem. The children were a nuisance to these leaders. By quoting this Scripture, Jesus showed that God took seriously the praise of these children. They did what the leaders were unwilling to do: give glory to the longed-for Messiah.

As Viola and the children in the temple showed, God can use even a child to bring Him glory. Out of their willing hearts came a fountain of praise.

By Linda Washington

Today’s Reflection

How can I offer praise to God today? Why is He worthy of my praise?

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Art of Being Misunderstood

Having a nearly 100 pound German shepherd dog creates both opportunities and challenges. Like most German shepherds, my dog has the intense gaze and keen alertness typical of the breed. He does not have an ‘inside bark’ but rather exerts the full capacity of his lungs whenever a visitor or stranger comes to the door. For the person on the other side, venturing into the house is filled with fear. For all they know, a barking-mad, wild beast of a dog awaits them! I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the wide-berth I am given or the anxious looks I receive as I traverse the sidewalks of my neighborhood with my dog. He looks and sounds absolutely ferocious.

Given this description, it might be hard to believe that I have ample opportunities to showcase my dog’s gentle, calm, and loving demeanor despite his apparent ferocity. Kaiser is quick to roll over on his side when he meets another dog. His ears flatten with joy and his tail wags a mile a minute as he greets children and adults alike. For those who give him the opportunity, he proves himself time and time again to be an affectionate, docile canine.

My dog Kaiser is often misunderstood. His size, the reputation of the breed, and past memories of fearful encounters with large dogs will forever preclude a wonderful encounter for some who meet him. While I know this intellectually, I cannot help but take it personally every time I see individuals cross over to the other side of the street. No matter how much convincing I do, or how well-behaved my dog, there will always be those who simply don’t believe me when I tell them how friendly he is and how much he loves to meet other dogs and people. I reluctantly conclude that there will always be some people who misunderstand my dog and his good intentions.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Art of Being Misunderstood

Joyce Meyer – Cross the Finish Line


And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end. — Hebrews 6:11

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

Beginning something is easy but finishing takes courage. In the early stages of something new, we get all excited about it. We have a lot of emotions to support us.

However, when the emotions wear off and all that’s left is a lot of hard work and the need for patience, that’s when we find out who really has what it takes to reach the goal and truly succeed.

In God’s mind, we aren’t successful if we abandon what He’s called us to do. He wants us to finish and do it with joy!

If you have been tempted to give up—don’t. If you don’t finish the thing you’re currently involved in, you will face the same challenges with the next endeavor. Some people spend their entire lives starting all kinds of new things and never finishing any of them.

This happens for various reasons. Sometimes people lose interest or get distracted. Sometimes they aren’t willing to press through obstacles that arise as they move toward their goal.

God doesn’t promise that finishing everything we start will be easy. In fact, most of the time things don’t go smoothly because we need to learn the lessons that come from resolving problems.

But we cannot let ourselves quit; we must rely on God’s grace and keep moving toward the finish line until we cross it in victory.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I ask for a renewed strength and determination today to press toward my goals and everything You have called me to do. When things get difficult or I am tempted to give up, help me to see the value of remaining patient and finishing what I started. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The End Will Come


“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then, finally, the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

I applaud every effort to warn Christians and nonbelievers to be ready for our Lord’s return, as Scripture clearly teaches that He will come again and has delayed His return in order that more people might have a chance to hear the gospel. To this end, we must give priority to taking the gospel to all men everywhere throughout the world.

However, we dare not wrongly interpret the Scriptures, as so many in previous generations have done, resulting in a lack of concern for the souls of men and a failure to correct the evils of society.

God expects us as His children to be His representatives here on earth. We are to love with His love, sharing the message of salvation with all who will listen and helping to meet the needs of widows, orphans and prisoners in His name.

True believers in previous generations have always been at the forefront of moral and social reforms as well as being active in evangelism. Child labor laws, women’s suffrage and abolition of slavery, for example, grew out of a mighty spiritual awakening that swept England through the ministry of John Wesley, George Whitefield and their colleagues.

We in our generation must be no less concerned about injustice wherever we find it. The most important way to solve our social ills, however, is to change the hearts of men by introducing them to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our priority commitment as Christians must be to disciple and evangelize in obedience to our Lord’s command.

Then we should instruct new believers that “loving our neighbors as ourselves” includes helping them where they hurt. But remember, the Lord cares more about the soul than He does about the body. The body will soon perish but the soul will live forever.

Bible Reading: Matthew 24:7-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will keep my priorities straight – first sharing the good news of salvation to as many as possible, but at the same time demonstrating love and compassion to widows, orphans, prisoners and all who are in need, in obedience to our Lord’s command.

Max Lucado – When Heaven Celebrates


Listen to Today’s Devotion

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories of something lost and something found: a lost sheep; a lost coin; and a lost son.  At the end of each story, Jesus describes a celebration.  The point is clear.  Jesus is happiest when the lost are found.  Jesus rejoices because he knows what awaits the saved.  In Heaven, you will at long last, have a heart just like his.  Guiltless, fearless, tirelessly worshiping, and flawlessly discerning.

Jesus also rejoices that we are saved from hell.  He says there’s only one sound there—and that is the “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Every person you meet has been given an invitation to dinner.  When one says ‘yes,’ celebrate!  When one hesitates, urge him to get ready.  You don’t want anyone to miss the party.

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For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

Denison Forum – The Vietnam summit, clergy abuse, and YouTube videos on child suicide: Is the world getting better or worse?

The second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un begins later today. The two are scheduled to meet Wednesday night in a one-on-one session (with translators) before moving to a private “social dinner” and more meetings tomorrow.

We can look for the negative as the summit unfolds. NPR reports, “While talks may hold off the immediate threat of a military conflict, they also give North Korea time to continue to develop its arsenal.”

Or we could look for the positive. One example: the two leaders are meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. I remember when news coverage from Vietnam showed bloody images of American soldiers fighting and dying in its jungles. We could not have imagined then that the US and Vietnam would be diplomatic and economic partners today.

“God can help you, he really can.”

I told the story yesterday of Craig Coley’s thirty-nine years in prison for crimes he did not commit. Rather than focus on the negative, Coley told New York Times reporters that he often talks to people about the power of perseverance: “People that are down and out or having a hard time, my message to them is don’t give up, tell the truth about everything because the truth will always come back and support you.

He adds: “Lies never do. And God can help you, he really can.”

We can focus on the horrendous crimes Vatican Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of committing. But we can also be grateful for the courage of clergy abuse victims who have told their story, intensifying the spotlight on such sins today.

We should be horrified by reports of sex trafficking that have surfaced in the wake of Robert Kraft’s arrest. But we can also support International Justice Mission and other organizations working to end sex trafficking and other forms of slavery.

We should be appalled by YouTube videos that offer children instructions on how to commit suicide. But we can be grateful for Christian Parenting and other ministries that help parents raise godly children.

In short, we can decide that the world is only getting worse. But, as the Wall Street Journal reports, in significant ways it is getting much better.

“She is not dead but sleeping”

Unfortunately, many in our secular culture consider faith to be neither a cause for the good nor a solution for the bad. Young Americans are especially less inclined to identify as religious or attend regular services. Studies consistently show that religion is declining in Western Europe and North America while growing everywhere else.

As our culture becomes increasingly secularized, more and more people agree with Karl Marx that religion is “the opium of the people” which must be abolished so that “the illusory happiness of the people” can be exchanged for “their real happiness” (his italics).

According to Marx, “Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man so long as he does not revolve around himself.” Of course, he learned how wrong he was the moment he died and faced the God whose existence he denied (Hebrews 9:27).

Marx was the prisoner of presuppositions that blinded him to realities he could not then see. He was not the first or the last.

In Exodus 5, Moses and Aaron said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go’” (v. 1).

But the Egyptian ruler responded, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord” (v. 2). In Pharaoh’s view, what he had not experienced could not exist.

When Jesus told those mourning the death of Jairus’ daughter, “She is not dead but sleeping” (Luke 8:52), “they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead” (v. 53). Because they had not seen Jesus raise the dead, they assumed that he could not raise the dead.

Two ways to demonstrate the relevance of our faith

Before we can expect the pharaohs of our day to believe that our God is real and relevant, they must see that he is real and relevant for us. Consider two principles.

One: Do not judge your future by your past.

Exodus 6:23 tells us that Aaron, the future high priest, was married to the daughter of Amminadab. Ruth 4:18–19 tells us that Amminadab was descended from Perez. Genesis 38:29 tells us that Perez was the child of Tamar, who pretended to be a prostitute and became pregnant by her father-in-law.

Nothing that has happened in your past need determine what happens in your future. Only Jesus can forgive the past, empower the present, and redeem the future. When you seek and follow God’s “good and pleasing and perfect” will (Romans 12:2 NLT), others will be inspired to do the same.

Two: Give Monday to God.

Jesus becomes irrelevant to our lives when we separate him from our lives. A Sunday faith must be a Monday reality.

Oswald Chambers: “Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness.” Here’s why: “When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.” When he is King of every part of our lives, others will see that he is King of all of life.

According to C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, God desires for us “the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water.”

David echoed this joyous fact more simply: “This I know, that God is for me!” (Psalm 56:9).

Do you know that God is for you today?