Charles Stanley – The Lure of Momentary Pleasure

 

Genesis 25:29-34

After reading today’s story about Jacob and Esau, you probably thought, I can’t believe Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. How foolish! But let’s think beyond birthrights and soup. Is there anything of true value that you are trading for something of lesser worth? In other words, what is your “bowl of soup”?

Have you pursued wealth and a career at the expense of family? Maybe your busy schedule has kept you from spending time with God in His Word each day. Some people become involved in extramarital affairs, trading the well-being of their family for the satisfaction of lustful desires. Others sacrifice their health by consuming harmful or addictive substances, or even by overindulging in food. The list of ways we make foolish, shortsighted choices is endless.

Some of the decisions we make today could rob us of the blessings God wants to give us. When you yield to temptation, you’re actually sacrificing your future for momentary pleasure. We can’t afford to live thoughtlessly, basing our decisions on immediate desires or feelings. Since the principle of sowing and reaping cannot be reversed (Gal. 6:7), we need to carefully consider what we are planting. The harvest will come, at which point we’ll reap what we have sown—and more than we’ve sown.

Are you contemplating anything that could have serious long-term ramifications if you yield to the yearning? A wise person evaluates choices by looking ahead to see what negative consequences could follow a course of action. Don’t let “a bowl of soup” hinder God’s wonderful plans for you.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 33-34

 

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Our Daily Bread — Right There with Us

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 31–33; Mark 9:1–29

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

Matthew 14:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 14:13-21

She was completely focused on the top shelf, where the glass jars of spaghetti sauce sat. I’d been standing beside her in the grocery aisle for a minute or two eyeing that same shelf, trying to decide. But she seemed oblivious to my presence, lost in her own predicament. Now I have no problem with top shelves because I’m a fairly tall man. She, on the other hand, was not tall, not at all. I spoke up and offered to help. Startled, she said, “Goodness, I didn’t even see you standing there. Yes, please help me.”

The disciples had quite the situation on their hands—hungry crowds, a remote place, and time slipping away—“It’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food” (Matthew 14:15). When challenged by Jesus to take care of the people themselves, they responded, “We have here only . . .” (v. 17). All they seemed to be aware of was their lack. Yet standing right beside them was Jesus, not just the multiplier of bread but the Bread of Life Himself.

We can get so wrapped up in our challenges and trying to figure them out for ourselves with our often-limited perspective that we miss the abiding presence of the risen Christ. From remote hillsides to grocery store aisles and everywhere else in between, He’s Immanuel—God right there with us, an ever-present help in trouble.

By John Blase

Today’s Reflection

How can you increase your awareness of Jesus’s presence? Why is it vital for us to gain His perspective in what we’re facing?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Embodied Truths

On October 30, 1938 a national radio program playing dance music was interrupted with a special news bulletin. The announcer heralded news of a massive meteor, which had crashed near Princeton, New Jersey. The reporter urged evacuation of the city as he anxiously described the unfolding scene: Strange creatures were emerging from the meteor armed with deadly rays and poisonous gases.

The infamous broadcast, which caused panic throughout the country and mayhem all over New York and New Jersey, was made by Orson Welles, a 23-year old actor giving a dramatic presentation of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. His compelling performance created traffic jams and tied up phone lines, interrupted religious services and altered bus routes. Several times in the program a statement was made regarding the broadcast’s fictional nature. Still, many Americans were convinced that Martians had really landed. One man insisted he had heard the President Roosevelt’s voice over the radio advising all citizens to leave their cities. Another, on the phone with a patrolman, cried in alarm, “I heard it on the radio. Then I went to the roof and I could see the smoke from the bombs, drifting over toward New York. What shall I do?”(1)

The War of the Worlds broadcast will perhaps forever remain one of the most telling examples of the power of context, and in more ways than one. Whether listeners tuned in after the introduction or happened to miss the declaimers, the convincing portrayal was enough to send waves of fear across the entire country. In the context of breaking news, fiction appeared alarmingly factual.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Embodied Truths

Joyce Meyer – Looking at the Whole Picture

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. — Philippians 4:8

From the book The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When we focus on what has gone wrong in our lives, it can start to seem that nothing ever goes right, but that is simply not true. You may have had difficult things take place over the course of your life, but the mindset of gratitude realizes that the good times have outnumbered the bad.

Look at your life as a whole rather than focusing on tragedies, trials, and disappointments. Looking at the good will give you courage to deal with the bad things and avoid living in fear.

Realizing that God is with you, helping you along the way, provides the courage you need to face the future boldly, knowing that you truly can overcome any obstacle in the strength and power of the Lord.

Prayer Starter: Father, when I am feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by life, help me to see all the good things You have done. I thank You that the good outweighs the bad. And I thank You that there are many more good things to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Only Way

 

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way – yes, and the Truth and the life. No one can get to the Father except by means of Me'” (John 14:6).

Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, was conducting a great city-wide campaign in Tokyo and asked me to be in charge of the student phase of the crusade. So day after day, for more than a month, I spoke to thousands of students on many campuses, presenting the claims of Christ and challenging the students to receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Many thousands responded, but occasionally a student would object and say that Jesus had no relevance for the Japanese – that Christianity is for the Westerner, not for the Asian. They were surprised when I reminded them that Jesus was born and reared in and carried out His ministry in the Middle East and that He was in many ways closer to them culturally and geographically that He was to me.

I reminded them, and I want to remind you, that though the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth, in what is now Israel, He came to this world to die for all people in all lands.

The Scripture reminds us, “Whosoever will may come.” In addition to coming to Him for salvation, Christians have the privilege of coming to God the Father a thousand times, and more, each day in prayer in the name of Jesus. This is because He is our mediator, unlike anyone else who has ever lived – Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius. No other religious leader died for us and was raised from the dead.

Jesus alone can bridge the great chasm between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, because He personally has paid the penalty for our sins. God proved His love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our sins.

Bible Reading: John 14:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask the Holy Spirit to examine my heart to see if there be any wicked way in me, so that I can confess and turn from my sin. I will visualize our mediator – the Lord Jesus Christ – seated at the right hand of God making intercession for me. I will also ask the Lord to lead me today to someone who does not yet know our Savior, that I may share with him or her the most joyful news ever announced.

 

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Max Lucado – Jesus Message is Not Guilty!

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Whether private or public, shame is always painful.  And unless you deal with it, it is permanent.  The eighth chapter of John tells us about a woman caught in the act of adultery.  It was really a trap to snag Jesus.  The woman was only the bait in the Pharisees’ game.  Jesus responded by writing in the sand and saying, “Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her.”  Finally, Jesus and the woman are left alone and he said to her, “I also don’t judge you guilty.”

If you’ve ever wondered how God reacts when you fail, read these words and let them wash over your soul.  Jesus left a message—not in the sand, but on a cross.  Not with his hand, but with his blood.  His message has two words– Not guilty.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – ‘We’re more popular than Jesus’: The relevance of our faith today

 

“We’re more popular than Jesus now.”

These words of John Lennon, published on this day in 1966, have become a famous—or infamous—part of cultural history.

Here’s the larger context: Lennon told an interviewer for the London Evening Standard that “Christianity will go.” He added: “It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

His words sparked a furor in the United States. Radio stations invited listeners to bring their Beatles records to pickup points where they would be burned.

Lennon later apologized at a press conference in Chicago: “I’m not anti-God, anti-Christ or anti-religion. I was not saying we are greater or better. I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky.”

However, Lennon began his most famous song, “Imagine,” with the lyrics, “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky.” Later he asked us to imagine that there’s “no religion, too.”

Why parents are selling their children

In a world like ours, it’s easy to wonder if God is real or relevant.

Search and rescue efforts are intensifying this morning after a series of tornadoes ripped through Alabama yesterday, killing at least twenty-three people in one county. At least a dozen tornadoes touched down in Alabama and Georgia Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Two people were killed and seven more injured when the son of a New Orleans police officer drove his vehicle into a busy New Orleans thoroughfare Saturday night. Police are awaiting the results of a blood alcohol test.

More than 110 million people across the US are bracing for snowstorms. New York City and Boston are expected to get six to eight inches of snow.

And CNN reports that twenty thousand children in Ghana have been sold by their parents into slavery. They work on Lake Volta in the fishing industry. Authorities say extreme poverty forces parents to sell a child to traffickers to provide money for their other children to eat.

A “rapid and shocking” decline in church attendance

Five centuries before Christ, Greek philosopher Anaximander is said to have constructed the first map. It pictures the world in thirds—Europe, Asia, and what he called “Libya” (Africa). In the very center of the map stands Miletus, the city in western Turkey where he lived.

Why did Anaximander position himself in the center of the world? His decision was less reflective of ego than of experience. Look around yourself. Everywhere you turn, you’re in the middle of the world you can see.

This fact is both geographical and psychological. We measure the world by what we experience of the world. John Lennon later explained his belief that Christianity “will vanish and shrink”: “From what I’ve read, or observed, Christianity just seems to be shrinking, to be losing contact.”

The United Kingdom of 1966 was indeed experiencing a significant decline in church attendance and cultural relevance. And church attendance has fallen further in the decades since. According to a recent survey, more than half the British population now say they have no religion.

However, it’s always too soon to give up on God.

More people worship Jesus in China than in America

Our secular culture separates God from the “real world.” Our materialistic society measures truth by what we can measure. Taken together, the cultural trends of our day could lead Americans to believe Lennon was right.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Christianity in Africa across the last century has grown from less than 10 percent of the population to nearly five hundred million today. Our faith has grown at twice the rate of the population growth in Asia.

More people worship Jesus in China today than in America. A dear friend who serves in the Middle East tells me that more Muslims have come to Christ in the last fifteen years than in the previous fifteen centuries.

“Power belongs to God”

Just because we cannot see God at work does not mean that he is not at work.

Pharaoh trusted the magicians and idols of his cultural religion more than the unseen God of Moses until the one true Lord destroyed his nation. Darius insisted that the nation pray to him until Daniel’s prayer to the unseen God spared Daniel in the lions’ den. Saul of Tarsus persecuted Christians until he met their risen Lord on the road to Damascus.

David testified: “Power belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11). The psalmist added: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power” (Psalm 147:5 NIV). Jesus assured us that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

The greatest gift we can give

Do you believe that God can do all he has ever done? That he is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)? If you’re lacking faith in his omnipotence, would you pray for the faith you need (Mark 9:24)?

Now, would you ask your Father to make your faith relevant to your culture? Would you pray for him to lead you, empower you, and use you to make a difference in someone’s life for the glory of God?

John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980. I’ve seen the spot where he was shot in the archway of the New York City residence where his widow still lives. One instant after his death, he no longer wondered if the God of Scripture is real (Hebrews 9:27).

Introducing people to Jesus before they meet him in eternity is the greatest gift we can give them.

 

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