Charles Stanley – A Decision to Follow Jesus

 

Luke 5:27-28

Yesterday we saw how Scripture answers the question Who is Jesus? Once we have that information, we must decide what to do with it. Some may choose to ignore what they have learned, but the truth is that we have only two options. We can either accept or reject Jesus as Savior; avoidance is actually a form of rejection.

So how, exactly, do we accept Jesus in our life? The answer is that we must believe in Him. This means placing confidence in the person of Christ, knowing that His death on Calvary’s cross paid for all our sin. This is not merely an intellectual understanding; rather, it is a total surrender to Jesus as the only one who can forgive our sins, thereby bridging the gap between us and the Father. And when we receive Jesus as Savior, we immediately become children of the King.

Believers must also follow Christ’s ways. Allowing Jesus to live out His lordship through our life means yielding our will and desires to His. In addition, Christians are to worship Him. We should be so overwhelmed by His presence that our heart and lips overflow with adoration.

One last thing, of course, is that we’re to share the truth with others. Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus commanded His followers to spread the good news of salvation to the entire world (Matt. 28:19-20).

We are blessed to have ready access to God’s Word. Once we know who He is, we must decide whether we’ll wholeheartedly yield our life to Him. He longs to have an intimate, personal relationship with you. Will you say yes to His offer?

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Blessing Is Coming

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 19–21; Luke 2:25–52

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Galatians 6:7–10

A friend and I went for a walk with her grandkids. While pushing the stroller, she commented that her steps were being wasted—they weren’t being counted on the activity tracker she wore on her wrist because she wasn’t swinging her arm. I reminded her that those steps were still helping her physical health. “Yeah,” she laughed. “But I really want that electronic gold star!”

I understand how she feels! Working toward something without immediate results is disheartening. But rewards aren’t always immediate or immediately visible.

When that’s the case, it’s easy to feel that the good things we do are useless, even helping a friend or being kind to a stranger. Paul explained to the church in Galatia, however, that “a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). But we must “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest” (v. 9). Doing good isn’t the way to gain salvation, and the text doesn’t specify whether what we reap will be now or in heaven, but we can be assured that there will be “a harvest of blessing” (6:9 nlt).

Doing good is difficult, especially when we don’t see or know what the “harvest” will be. But as with my friend who still gained the physical benefit from walking, it’s worth continuing to do good because the blessing is coming!

By Julie Schwab

Today’s Reflection

Are you discouraged? Ask God to help you trust Him to be faithful in what He’s called you to do. What good thing can you do for someone today?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Indignity of Giving Thanks

The spirit of thanksgiving runs against the temptation we face as human beings to assert our self-sufficiency. Few of us enjoy the feeling of indebtedness; a fact easily demonstrated by our oft-unsolicited readiness to return a favor once someone has expressed kindness to us. I owe you one, I will return the favor, and I am in your debt are some of the ways in which we express this attitude. Such responses, together with the more modest one, please let me know what I can do for you, allow us to express gratitude without acknowledging the chronic shadow of dependence that so rudely dogs our entire threescore and ten.

Not only does this inability to express gratitude without our own autonomy stealing the show sometimes rob of us of the joy of affirming the contribution of others to our wellbeing, it also shrivels up our desire to worship God. An unexamined sense of self-sufficiency instills in us a subtle but false attitude of entitlement, thus making it difficult for us to accept the sense of vulnerability that is part of true gratitude. Ever since the tempter said to Adam and Eve in the Garden, “You will be like God,” human beings have never given up the temptation to either elevate ourselves to the level of God or pull God down to our level, so we can deal with God as equals. We are always looking for a chance to say to God, “I can take it from here.”

Such an attitude of entitlement, I believe, occupies a central role in the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. While all ten are healed by Jesus, only one of them returns to express gratitude. In his editorial comment, Luke informs us that the one who returned to give thanks was a Samaritan, and Jesus refers to him as a foreigner. Undoubtedly, this implies that the other nine were Jews. Could it be that the Jewish lepers felt entitled to the services of this Jewish prophet and their God? If God were to begin to right wrongs in the world, wouldn’t the most logical place to begin be among his own chosen people? Judging by Jesus’s expression of surprise in the passage, it seems the only words one would have expected from the mouths of the nine lepers would have been, “It’s about time!” Without a clear sense of how little we are entitled to, we cannot really come to terms with the need for gratitude—for an attitude of entitlement is an effective impediment to gratitude.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Indignity of Giving Thanks

Joyce Meyer – God Will Fight for You

 

And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but Gods’.” — 2 Chronicles 20:15

There are times in our lives when we feel like we are up against what seems to be an insurmountable enemy. Things appear to be hopeless, and we are in a fight we think we can’t possibly win. During times like these, we need to remember one very important thing: The battle belongs to the Lord.

You and I are involved in a spiritual war in the unseen realm. God’s Word makes it clear that we will have times of trouble (see John 16:33). But the Bible also makes it clear that no matter what we may be facing, God has a plan. His plan for us is to be victorious—even when our problems feel overwhelming.

You may be struggling with fear, a bad habit, relationship issues, or even a life-threatening disease. Whatever it is, when you give your battle to the Lord, you are in a position to win. Second Chronicles chapter 20 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It’s the perfect blueprint for how to respond when trouble strikes.

At the beginning of this chapter, we find King Jehoshaphat of Judah and his entire army surrounded by their enemies, trapped and outnumbered. Suddenly, without hardly any warning, Judah’s army was faced with an impossible situation and seemingly no solution. Sound familiar?

There are three very important things Jehoshaphat did. First, he admitted that he had no might to stand against his enemies. Second, he admitted that he did not know what to do. And third, he said that their eyes were on God. These three things put Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah in a position for a miracle.

In a similar way, we need to realize that we are totally dependent on God to solve our problem and fight our battles—we can’t do it on our own!

Prayer Starter: Lord, I understand there will be times when I face troubles and difficulties. Help me to let You fight my battles, trusting You to show up in my situation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Our Hearts’ Desires

 

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24, KJV).

Jesus, assuming that our lives are pure and we are Spirit-filled, declares that our heartfelt desires will be God-given. When God gives us those desires, He then gives us the power to fulfill them (Philippians 2:13). Sometimes when God gives you a desire that is based upon Scripture, one that springs from pure motives and a desire to glorify Him, that desire may continue over a period of time as you continue in the spirit of prayer and seek counsel of other godly people who also walk in the Spirit, but you can be assured that whatever God has placed in your heart, He will do.

For example, one of the great desires of my heart as a new Christian was to produce a film on the life of Jesus. I contacted and sought the counsel of the late Cecil B. De Mille who produced the magnificent “King of Kings,” which, after more than fifty years is still being viewed by millions of people each year throughout the world. I continued to pray and many years later discussed with members of our Board of Directors whether or not we should produce such a film. They encouraged me to do whatever God led me to do, but made it clear that funds would have to be available before we could produce the film. The years passed – more than thirty years, in fact. Then miracle of miracles, in a marvelous way at Arrowhead Springs God brought together John Hyeman, a well-known film producer and director, and Bunker and Caroline Hunt to provide the finances, and the film, Jesus, became a dramatic reality.

Already, this film has been translated into more languages than any film in history and it is our goal to complete the translation into at least 271 languages which will represent every group in the world with a million or more population. We expect to have at least 2,000 teams showing the film each night to as many as four million people or even more when this massive project is in full swing. It is our prayerful objective that at least one billion people will be introduced to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the ministry of this film.

My point is, the desire was placed in my heart and, though that desire did not continue on a daily basis, from time to time God would remind me and I would pray for and claim again by faith the fulfillment of that dream. And now, years later, this desire is becoming a joyful reality.

Bible Reading: Psalm 21:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Whenever a desire to do something special for God is impressed upon my mind and heart, I will check to see if it is scriptural, and if it will bring glory to God. When it meets all biblical standards and the counsel of godly people, I will believe God for its supernatural fulfillment.

 

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Max Lucado – Seeing the Unseen

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

We can’t see the future.  It’s one limitation we all share.  In Mark Chapter 5 we read about Jairus, the leader of the synagogue.  The Jairus we see in this story was a desperate father begging for Jesus to heal his daughter.  His meeting with Jesus was interrupted by a message from home– “Your daughter is dead.”  But Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Faith sometimes begins by ignoring what people say.  We have a choice to live by the facts or see by faith.  Jairus opted for faith and Jesus.  Mark it down!  God knows you and I are blind.  He knows living by faith and not by sight doesn’t come naturally.  And I think that’s one reason he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Not for her sake—she was better off in heaven.  But for our sake—to teach us that heaven sees when we trust.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Attorney General releases summary of the Mueller report: 3 biblical responses

 

While I was flying home from Israel yesterday, US Attorney General William Barr released his summary of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s two-year-long investigation into President Trump and his aides.

The summary addressed the question America has been asking for the last 676 days: Did the president, or anyone working for him, conspire with Russia to influence the 2016 election in his favor? Further, did he or those working on his behalf attempt to obstruct federal investigations into this matter?

The significance of the Mueller report is enormous. If the special counsel determined that such collusion or obstruction took place, the ramifications for our democracy would be foundational and tragic.

What the report tells us

Mr. Mueller’s report was presented to the US attorney general, who in turn issued his summary. He noted that the special counsel employed nineteen lawyers who were assisted by approximately forty FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The special counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly five hundred search warrants, and interviewed approximately five hundred witnesses.

The special counsel’s investigation determined that a Russian organization known as the Internet Research Agency attempted to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the US “with the aim of interfering with the election.”

It also found that “Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries.”

However, Mr. Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

With regard to obstructing the investigation, the special counsel “did not draw a conclusion—one way or the other—as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.” Instead, Mr. Mueller sets out evidence on both sides of the question and states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

This decision “leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.” Attorney General Barr, in consultation with other officials, determined that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

A threat that should concern every American

The essence of fallen human nature is the enthronement of self. It is seeking what is best for me at the expense of what is best for you.

Russian actors obviously felt it was in their personal and/or national best interests to interfere in our democratic process. Last year, the Mueller investigation charged twenty-five Russian intelligence operatives and social media manipulation experts. The final report makes clear their intent to influence the 2016 election.

This is a threat that should concern every American. Our right and ability to elect our leaders is foundational to our democracy. If foreign countries and actors can influence our votes and elections, our democracy is imperiled.

Closer to home, the responses we are seeing to Mr. Barr’s report are predictably partisan.

Republican leaders are claiming total vindication for the president. Congressional Democrats are calling for the attorney general to turn over all files related to the investigation; a co-founder of a Democratic support organization wrote on Twitter that Mr. Barr’s summary “is pure propaganda.”

It is unlikely that the Mueller report will change many minds. As the New York Times notes, “Opinions have hardened over time, with many Americans already convinced they knew the answers before Mr. Mueller submitted his conclusions.”

Three biblical responses

As Christians respond to this controversial issue, it is vital that we resist the temptation to put our political beliefs ahead of our public witness.

The special counsel’s report could help or hinder the spread of God’s kingdom in a variety of ways, but few of them relate directly to the president, Congress, or Russia. God’s plans for our country already took into account the findings of the report. He knew the truth long before Mr. Mueller did, and he knows what will continue to come from the proceedings.

Our Father is now calling on his children to reflect his character. Whether you are a supporter or a critic of the president and his administration, it is vital that you respond in ways that glorify our Lord and draw people to him.

Scripture prescribes three priorities in this regard.

One: We should respect the authority of the offices our leaders hold.

Paul’s injunction was clear: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). Do your words regarding the president and other elected leaders respect their offices and authority?

Two: We should pray for our leaders.

Paul instructed us: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–2).

When last did you pray for our president and other leaders?

Three: We should hold our leaders accountable to biblical character.

Jesus told his apostles, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). After washing his disciples’ feet, our Lord taught them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).

Are you praying for our leaders to be biblical servants?

Are you modeling such behavior for our culture?

As I often note, winning arguments is less important than winning souls. Frederick Faber was right: “Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.” As a result, in a culture so riven with partisan vitriol, the words of seventeenth-century English churchman Thomas Fuller are remarkably relevant: “Kindness is the noblest weapon to conquer with.”

How will you use it today?

 

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