Charles Stanley – Living in Freedom

 

Romans 6:1-14

When Eve accepted Satan’s offer of greater independence from God, do you think she experienced more freedom? The answer is obvious. She, Adam, and the entire human race became enslaved to sin from that point onward. What looked like a great deal ended in deadly bondage.

Although Christ has set believers free from slavery to sin, we, like Eve, oftentimes long for the “freedom” to do what we want. But whenever we give in to sinful desires, we’re behaving like slaves instead of living as free children of God. He’s given us the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to say no to sin if we’ll just yield to His leadership.

The consequences of reverting to our old ways are devastating. We’ll sink deeper into bondage to sin, lose the peace and joy of fellowship with Christ, grieve the Holy Spirit, and find ourselves under the disciplining hand of the Father. We can also miss out on the blessing of helping to advance His kingdom—by falling into the hypocrisy of living like the world, we ruin our testimony because there’s no discernible benefit to having a relationship with God. Our unsaved friends, relatives, and coworkers are watching. Unless they see a difference between us and themselves, why would they want our Savior?

If Satan whispers in your ear that the Lord’s limitations are depriving you of something good, remember what happened to Eve in the book of Genesis. Liberty to do whatever we want is slavery to self and sin. Only when we live within the Father’s protective boundaries can we experience the freedom Christ purchased for us.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 21-23

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Great News!

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 20–22; Mark 7:1–13

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.

Psalm 51:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 51:1-7

The article in the local newspaper was short but heartwarming. After attending a faith-based program on building stronger family ties, a group of prison inmates were given a rare treat of an open visit with their families. Some hadn’t seen their children in years. Instead of talking through a glass panel, they could touch and hold their loved ones. The tears flowed freely as families grew closer and wounds began to heal.

For most readers, it was just a story. But for these families, holding one another was a life-changing event—and for some, the process of forgiveness and reconciliation was begun.

God’s forgiveness of our sin and offer of reconciliation, made possible through His Son, is more than a mere fact of the Christian faith. The article’s news of reconciliation reminds us that Jesus’s sacrifice is great news not just for the world, but for you and me.

In times when we’re overwhelmed by guilt for something we’ve done, however, it’s news we can cling to desperately. That’s when the fact of God’s unending mercy becomes personal news: because of Jesus’s dying on our behalf, we can come to the Father washed clean, “whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). In such times, when we know we don’t deserve His mercy, we can hold on to the only thing we can depend on: God’s unfailing love and compassion (v. 1).

By Leslie Koh

Today’s Reflection

Father, I’m sorry if I’ve taken Your mercy and love for granted. Thank You for this wonderful gift and privilege that I don’t deserve yet You’ve promised unconditionally

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Stories We Tell

 

Have you ever had the feeling that an experience you had, whether good or bad, was like a scene from a novel or a movie—like you were a part of at least a small story? With the ubiquitous presence of Facebook pages and blogging platforms, I suspect this phenomenon grows all the more common an experience (and likely one that increasingly communicates we are the leading characters of these stories). If the answer is yes, it’s probably because our lives, after all, do tell a story—and perhaps the increasing presence of such outlets to tell these stories affirms it. Every human being has a unique story unfolding as they live out their lives. Just think of it: literally billions of different stories going on all at once, intertwining, overlapping, as we love each other, hate each other, struggle together, and laugh together. Every minute new human stories are beginning in birth and old ones are concluding in death.

Listen to what author Brent Curtis has to say about the stories of our lives:

“The deepest convictions of our heart are formed by stories and reside there in the images and emotions of [a] story….Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes. As Eugene Peterson said, ‘We live in a narrative, we live in a story. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have character.’ Story is the language of the heart. Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract propositions of systematic theology; they speak the images and emotions of story.”(1)

We love stories because life itself is a story. We each have a story that takes place in a particular context, culture, and time in history. Depending on how we grew up, the dynamics of our families, and a million other factors, our stories are going to come out differently.

But is there any common element that runs through all of our stories, an element that we see in every life?

You may have never thought about it this way, but the Christian message really introduces a story of its own; and if it is indeed true, it’s a story that explains the “plot” of each and every human life story. What is this lot? It’s a love story. It’s the story of God’s love for us individually and collectively, God’s seeking to win our hearts again and again, and our responses to this movement toward us. We see this in the well known text of John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. I would challenge you to look at your life, look at where you are now and where you’ve been, and see if you do not find evidence of God drawing you closer to who God truly is. See if you can find God calling to you in the circumstances of your life, even in hard or painful times, whispering to you in joy, in mystery, in fear, in pain.

God is the ultimate author, God’s story the account that makes sense of our lives and brings beauty into our own stories. As one human author put it, your life could be the very poetry of God.

 

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

 

(1) Brent Curtis, The Sacred Romance (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 39

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – An Unselfish Attitude

 

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. — Philippians 4:5 (AMPC)

From the book My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Disciples of Jesus are called upon to deny themselves and their own interests (see Mark 8:34). I am sure that doesn’t sound too exciting, but it does provide a quality of life that we cannot have while being selfish and self-centered. True happiness is only found when we find something to live for other than ourselves.

I spent the first half of my life being self-absorbed, and then I discovered that Jesus died so I might no longer have to live only for myself. At that point I embarked on a journey of learning to live for God and others. I want to say right away that I have not arrived, but I do press on toward the goal.

Living only for yourself and selfishly seeking only what pleases you is like living in prison and being in solitary confinement. Unless we are willing to die to self, we abide alone; we live isolated lonely lives (see John 12:24); very few people call us friend; and when we are gone, nobody really cares that much. We have traveled through life, and the world is no better because we were here.

I invite you to declare war on selfishness! As occasion and opportunity open up to you, do good to all people (see Galatians 6:10). Be kind and do what is for their welfare.

Make a decision to put a smile on at least three faces today. You may be surprised to find that their smile will make you smile too!

Prayer Starter: Prayer: Father, help me use all of my abilities to be a blessing to other people today and every day. Grant me the grace to live a life that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – I Am With You Always

 

“And then teach new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this — that I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

When David Livingstone sailed for Africa the first time, a group of his friends accompanied him to the pier to wish him bon voyage.

Concerned for the safety of the missionary, some of his well-wishers reminded him of the dangers which would confront him in the dark land to which he was journeying. One of the men tried to convince him he should remain in England.

Opening his Bible, Livingstone read the six decisive words that had sealed the matter for him long before: “Lo, I am with you always.”

Then turning to the man who was especially concerned about his safety, Livingstone smiled before he gave a calm reply.

“That, my friend, is the word of a gentleman,” he said. “So let us be going.”

For many years, I have visited scores of countries on each continent, each year traveling tens of thousands of miles, as the director of the worldwide ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. What a joy and comfort it is to know that I am never outside of His care! Whether at home or abroad, He is always with me, even to the end of the world. I can never travel so far away that He is not with me.

And so it is with you, if you have placed your trust and faith in Jesus Christ. You have His indwelling Holy Spirit as your constant companion – the one who makes possible the supernatural life that is the right and privilege of every believer. How important that we never lose sight of this truth: He is with us always.

Bible Reading: Matthew 28:16-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I am reminded afresh that Jesus, to whom God has given all authority in heaven and earth, is with me; that He will never leave me nor forsake me; that His supernatural power is available to me moment by moment, enabling me to do all that God has called me to do — if only I will trust and obey Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Finishing Strong

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The Christian race is demanding, grueling, and sometimes agonizing.  It takes a massive effort to finish strong.  But many don’t.  They may come to church and warm a pew, but their hearts aren’t in the race.

Jesus is the classic example of one who endured, in spite of temptation, accusations, and shame.  The devil tempted Jesus nonstop for forty days.  Jesus’ own family called him a lunatic.  And, on the cross, he bore the collective shame of all humanity.  How did he endure?  By focusing on “the joy that God put before him.”  That was the prize of heaven!  And what he saw gave him strength to finish… and and finish strong.

Someday we will be seated, and Christ will christen the meal with these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  And in that moment, the race will have been worth it.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Vietnam summit ends early: What makes history seldom makes headlines

 

The Vietnam summit has ended.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country, offering to dismantle his Yongbyon nuclear complex in return. President Trump said Washington wanted a deal that includes other parts of the North’s nuclear program. “I just felt it wasn’t good enough,” Mr. Trump said. “We had to have more.”

The two sides ended their meeting amicably but without producing an agreement. Whether the summit is a setback or a step toward peace is open to interpretation.

While Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim were meeting in Vietnam, Michael Cohen was testifying before Congress. The president’s former personal attorney spent more than six hours yesterday answering questions from the House Oversight Committee. Whether his statements damaged the president or not is open to interpretation.

Historical events are objective, but the way they are reported and remembered is subjective.

30 million pages headed for the moon

Israel launched its first spacecraft last week. “Beresheet” (Hebrew for Genesis) will be the smallest craft to land on the moon, but it is carrying something of great significance: the so-called Lunar Library.

This is a disc containing twenty-five thousand books, a full copy of Wikipedia, and information on understanding earthly languages—in total, a thirty-million-page tome. The “library” is intended to preserve humanity’s knowledge and history long after we’re gone.

Did your story make the Lunar Library? On the day of your salvation, you joined a faith family that will be alive in Paradise ten thousand millennia after the moon and everything on it perishes.

Here’s my point: what makes history seldom makes headlines.

News that didn’t make headlines

Continue reading Denison Forum – Vietnam summit ends early: What makes history seldom makes headlines