Charles Stanley – The Lord Comforts Sinners

 

John 8:1-11

We expect a loving heavenly Father to care for His children when they are hurt, persecuted, or misunderstood. But you might be surprised to realize that God comforts believers even when they have sinned.

Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save anyone who believes in Him (John 3:17). Consider His response to the woman whom the Pharisees caught committing adultery. They brought her behavior to Jesus’ attention and wanted to stone her. But instead of taking up a rock, Jesus offered forgiveness. The Lord did not defend her actions or completely erase all consequences of her choices. However, He did offer compassion as well as an opportunity to turn her life around and live in the forgiveness He granted: “Go. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

The Lord understands our human frailty. And even before we do wrong, He knows the poisonous harvest that we will reap from sin. We certainly want a lot of comfort when we are suffering from our own foolishness. A loving heavenly Father does not abandon His children at their hour of great need—His Spirit wades into the mess we have made. He offers to guide us out of the pit, soothes our broken heart, and provides reassurance that He is always close by.

Sinning against the Lord makes us feel unworthy of His care and solace. Yet God’s forgiveness is based on His great mercy rather than our conduct. If Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to save you from your sins, then He will love and comfort you, no matter what.

Bible in One Year: Ruth 1-2

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hand Made for You

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 7–9; Luke 1:21–38

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 2:4-10

My grandmother was a talented seamstress who won contests in her native Texas. Throughout my life, she celebrated hallmark occasions with a hand-sewn gift. A burgundy mohair sweater for my high school graduation. A turquoise quilt for my marriage. I’d fold over a corner of each custom-crafted item to discover her signature tag reading, “Hand made for you by Munna.” With every embroidered word, I sensed my grandmother’s love for me and received a powerful statement of her faith in my future.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians of their purpose in this world, describing them as “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (2:10). Here “handiwork” denotes a work of art or a masterpiece. Paul goes on to describe that God’s handiwork in creating us would result in our handiwork of creating good works—or expressions of our restored relationship with Jesus—for His glory in our world. We can never be saved by our own good works, but when God hand makes us for His purposes, He can use us to bring others toward His great love.

With her head bowed over her needle, my Munna hand made items to communicate her love for me and her passion that I discover my purpose on this planet. And with His fingers shaping the details of our days, God stitches His love and purposes in our hearts that we might experience Him for ourselves and demonstrate His handiwork to others.

By Elisa Morgan

Today’s Reflection

What has God created you to do? Who can you show His love to today?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Behold, the Crucified

Even modern English Bible versions often end up retaining the rather un-modern term “behold” in their translations of the Hebrew word hinneh and the Greek word idou. This is because there is no other equivalent English word that quite does the job that behold does. All the three terms—Hebrew, Greek, and English—have a certain gravitas, and, whenever used, command us to pay careful attention to what follows.

In John’s narrative of the trial and the crucifixion of Jesus, there are five occurrences of the term—three coming from the mouth of the unwitting prophet, Pilate, and twice from the mouth of our Lord Jesus. Each occurrence summons us to a facet of the person and work of Christ.

In John 19:4, “Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.’” We may render Pilate’s words as: “Behold, the Guiltless One!” Christians have always claimed, and will always claim, that Jesus, the Innocent, bore the sins of a guilty world. When his executioners twisted together a crown of thorns and thrust it upon his head, little did they know that they were enacting a prophetic truth! For in that single image—the crown of thorns on his head—is encapsulated the central Christian claim: that this guiltless-but-crucified one bore upon himself the guilt and curse of the whole of creation. Remember: “Cursed is the ground because of you…. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you.”(1)

The following verse is the second time the word occurs: “Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold, the Man!’” (v.5). Jesus is the window to God; He is also the mirror to man. In him, we see what is wrong with us, and what we are meant to be. The poetic poignancy of the occurrence is also found in the allusion that, just as the first human being, Adam, takes stage on the sixth day of creation, Christ, the New Human Being, takes center stage on the sixth day—Good Friday—of new creation.(2) And we are summoned to pay close attention to him, the man.

We are no longer helplessly and hopelessly fated to take the course of Adam. There is another pattern for being fully and truly human: Behold, the human!

The third time “behold” appears is in verse 14, where “[Pilate] said to the Jews, ‘Behold, your King.’” In his book, Jesus Rediscovered, Malcolm Muggeridge, in his inimitable way, says, “The crown of thorns, the purple robe, the ironical title ‘King of the Jews,’ were intended to mock or parody Christ’s pretensions to be the Messiah; in fact, they rather hold up to ridicule and contempt all crowns, all robes, all kings that ever were. It was a sick joke that back-fired.”(3) Muggeridge is perhaps being a touch cynical here, and may be guilty of rendering serious political reflection and engagement impossible and pointless. All the same, the Christian claim that Jesus is the Christ (i.e., the King) is a claim that effectively loosens all other claims, renegotiates all other allegiances, recasts all other power, downsizes all other authorities, domesticates all other principalities, and tempers the Christian resolve to not give beings and things, apart from God and his Christ, an ultimacy that they demand but do not deserve. Christ, in short, dismantles idols and unravels idolatries.

The final two occurrences are found in John 19:26-27: “When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” We may club the two occurrences to mean, “Behold, your new family!” Theologians have also often noted John’s allusion to the Church in his record of Jesus side being speared: as Eve, the bride of Adam, issued forth from Adam’s side, the Church, the bride of Christ, issues forth from the crucified’s side, with the blood and water symbolizing the two foundational sacraments of the Church, Lord’s Supper and Baptism. At the foot of the Cross, there is the creating and forging of a new family, a new community, a new humanity—the Church: a believing that leads to a belonging.

Kethoser (Aniu) Kevichusa is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Nagaland, India.

(1) Genesis 3:17-18.
(2) This basic thought is borrowed from the various writings of N.T. Wright on the passage.
(3) Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered (London: Fontana, 1969), 47

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Joyce Meyer – How to Pray Effectively

 

[Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]. — John 14:14 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I reached a point in my prayer life where I felt frustrated, so I began to seek God about it. I wanted the assurance that my prayers were being effective. I wanted to have confidence that when I prayed, power was released to work in the situation I had prayed about. I wanted those things, but to be honest, I didn’t have that assurance or confidence.

Satan definitely wants to steal our confidence concerning prayer. Many people express the same frustrations that I felt. They pray, but all the while they’re wondering if they are being effective. What is wrong? I believe that we mistakenly think that we need to be perfect in order to have power in prayer, but we don’t. That is why we have been given the name of Jesus in which to pray!

When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are presenting to God the Father all that Jesus is, not what we are. Thankfully, I don’t pray in Joyce’s name; if I did I would never accomplish anything! The Holy Spirit helps us pray as we ought to, and the name of Jesus guarantees the answer!

Be bold in prayer because you have the name above every other name, and at the mention of that name, every knee must bow (see Philippians 2:10). Pray boldly, expecting results!

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that I can come to You boldly in prayer, knowing that You love to hear from me. Increase my level of expectation and help me to make prayer an easy, simple, natural part of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Answers While We Are Praying

 

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Whenever God impresses you with a need, you can always be assured that He will supply that need, often through others.

I remember the first time I asked God for a specific amount of money. We needed $485 for a particular ministry. While I was still on my knees in prayer, there came a knock at the door and the mailman handed me a registered letter containing a check for $500. Earlier, a young man from Zurich, Switzerland, had written his parents that he had received Christ through our ministry at UCLA, and he mentioned my name as one who had helped him. His parents and their daughter had then flown all the way from Zurich to California to learn how they also could become Christians. God honored their desire and after prayer and counsel they had gone home rejoicing in the assurance of their salvation. Now they were writing and sending this generous check to express their gratitude.

Later, we needed $10,000 and God impressed us to pray for that amount. An hour after we prayed, a man whom I did not know well called to say, “I am a new Christian, and I don’t know how God speaks to man, but you have been on my mind all day, so I thought it might be that God was trying to tell me something. I thought I would just call to see if you have a need.”

I told him we had just prayed for $10,000. He said, “That’s a lot of money, but I’ll call you back in an hour.”

An hour later he called to say he would send a check the next day for $10,000 as a loan without interest. He added, “If God continues to bless me and my business, I will give you the money.”

God greatly blessed his faith and obedience, and a year later the loan became a gift. God has graciously demonstrated His faithfulness on thousands of occasions and often in even greater ways.

For those who seek first God’s kingdom, He promises, “I will answer them before they even call Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers” (Isaiah 65:24). If our hearts and motives are pure and we seek always to please Him in what we do, we can never ask Him for too much. We can always be assured that our faithful God will answer us as we pray in accordance with His Word and Will.

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:24-33

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will remember the faithfulness of God, that so long as my heart and my motives are pure and I pray according His Word and will, He will hear me and answer me even before I pray.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – What Matters to You Matters to God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The first miracle of Jesus was at a wedding—no small event.  For several days, there was gift-giving, speechmaking, food-eating, and wine-drinking.   Hospitality was a sacred duty  The absence of wine was a social embarrassment.  Mary asks her son to help, and he tells her that his “time has not yet come.” But he changed his plan to meet the needs of his friends.

This miracle tells us that what matters to you matters to God. You are his child.  So go ahead. Tell God what hurts.  He won’t turn you away or think it’s silly.  Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses…Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace.”  Does God care about the little things in our lives?  You better believe it.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – A giant meteor explosion and the dangers of sugary drinks and cannabis: We are mortal and immortal

 

A gigantic meteor exploded over our planet last December. The blast generated energy equivalent to 173 kilotons of TNT, ten times the energy produced by the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima in 1945.

Why are we only now hearing about this? The explosion was over the Bering Sea, a remote location in the middle of the ocean.

Closer to home, a Harvard-led study has found that people who drink two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day have a 31 percent higher risk of early death from cardiovascular disease. Each additional soda or sports drink increases the risk by 10 percent.

In other health news, daily marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of developing psychosis. People who used any type of cannabis on a daily basis were three times more likely to have a diagnosis of a new episode of psychosis. The risk increased to five times for daily use of high potency cannabis.

From the cyclone in Mozambique that killed hundreds, to the dangerous storms threatening the Northeast today, to reports that the New Zealand terror suspect planned a third attack before he was apprehended, each day’s news reminds us that we are mortal.

But we are immortal as well.

I have often quoted C. S. Lewis’s profound observation: “You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

An altar seven hundred years older than Abraham

The intersection of our finitude and our immortality powerfully impressed me yesterday as our Israel study group visited the ancient fortress of Megiddo. A Canaanite altar here dates to 2700 BC—seven hundred years older than Abraham.

Continue reading Denison Forum – A giant meteor explosion and the dangers of sugary drinks and cannabis: We are mortal and immortal