Charles Stanley – Do You Know God’s Voice?

 

John 10:1-5

Our perceptions of the Lord have a huge impact on how we hear His voice speak to us in His Word and through His Spirit. There are many voices calling for our attention—we need to be able to distinguish Christ’s words from all the others because He alone always speaks truth. If we listen to other voices, we’ll be led astray, and this includes our own internal voice when it perceives God inaccurately.

This is why it’s so important to make sure our image of God fits the one given in Scripture. The Bible teaches us that …

He is righteous. The Lord would never lead us to do anything sinful because doing so would contradict His nature and His Word.

He is gracious. We don’t have to worry that God is waiting to condemn or punish us. Having been saved by Christ, we live continually in His grace and kindness.

He is faithful. He always does what He says and will never abandon those who belong to Him.

He is our heavenly Father. He loves and cares for us, both by providing for our needs and by disciplining us so that we grow in godliness.

He is our Judge. All who are in Christ, however, have passed out of judgment into eternal life and need never fear condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

If our conception of the Lord is inaccurate, we may think He’s harsh, stingy, or angry with us. But there is an even greater danger if we think that God wants to satisfy all our selfish and worldly desires—that is the voice of a stranger; we should reject it and flee to our Good Shepherd.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 15-16

 

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Our Daily Bread — Surrounded by God

 

Bible in a Year:Judges 4–6; Luke 4:31–44

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lordsurrounds his people both now and for evermore.

Psalm 125:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 125:1–5

In a busy airport, a young mother struggled alone. Her toddler was in full tantrum mode—screaming, kicking, and refusing to board their plane. Overwhelmed and heavily pregnant, the burdened young mother finally gave up, sinking to the floor in frustration, covering her face, and starting to sob.

Suddenly six or seven women travelers, all strangers, formed a circle around the young mother and her child—sharing snacks, water, gentle hugs, and even a nursery song. Their loving circle calmed the mother and child, who then boarded their plane. The other women returned to their seats, not needing to discuss what they had done, but knowing their support had strengthened a young mother exactly when she needed it.

This illustrates a beautiful truth from Psalm 125. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem,” says verse 2, “so the Lord surrounds his people.” The image reminds us how the bustling city of Jerusalem is, indeed, flanked by surrounding hills—among them the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, and Mount Moriah.

In this same way, God surrounds His people—supporting and standing guard over our souls “both now and for evermore.” Thus, on tough days, look up, “unto the hills,” as the psalmist puts it (Psalm 121:1 kjv). God awaits with strong help, steady hope, and everlasting love.

By Patricia Raybon

Today’s Reflection

How have you sensed the Lord surrounding you with His love? Who can you share His love with today?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Cross or the Cookie Jar

 

As a young man growing up in Scotland, like many others, I was exposed to Christianity and the symbol of the cross. It was a point of confusion, a mystery at best, and at worst, an object of scorn and disgust. I did not know what it meant or why religious people thought it important, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with it.

Alister McGrath, Professor of theology, ministry, and education at King’s College, London, writes: “Just as God has humbled himself in making himself known ‘in the humility and shame of the cross,’ we must humble ourselves if we are to encounter him. We must humble ourselves by being prepared to be told where to look to find God, rather than trusting in our own insights and speculative abilities. In effect, we are forced to turn our eyes from contemplation of where we would like to see God revealed, and to turn them instead upon a place which is not of our choosing, but which is given to us.”(1)

In other words, nothing in history, experience, or knowledge can prepare the world for God’s means of drawing near. At the cross, something we are not expecting is revealed, something scandalous unveiled, something we could never have articulated or asked for is given to us. Philip Yancey, the renowned author, offers more on this: “Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who take his cloak, who prays for those who deceitfully use him. The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to Kingdom, nor is it even the way to the Kingdom; it is the Kingdom come.”(2)

Christian or not, I think many of us have significantly distorted ideas about the purpose and meaning of the cross. When many people think of “sin” or the human condition before God, what comes to mind is perhaps something like the image of a child caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Such an image might well be understood as disobedience or maybe even naughtiness, but is it really that important? It is certainly not bad enough to justify extreme reactions. As a result of such a metaphor, our moral reflections on sin tend to foster incredulity or disgust. The response seems totally out of proportion to the offense.

But let us shift the metaphor. Supposing one day you go for a routine medical examination, and they discover you have a deadly virus. You did not do anything. You were not necessarily responsible, but you were exposed, and infected. You feel the injustice of it all, you are afraid, you are angry, but most of all, you are seriously sick. You are dying and you need help.

Whatever the cross and the gospel are about, it is not a slap on the hands for kids refusing to heed the rules of the cookie jar. It is not mere advice to get you to clean up your life and morals. It is not mere ideas to inform you about what it takes to be nice. It is restoration and recreation, a physician’s mediation; it is about human flourishing and discovering life.

The cross may seem an extreme and offensive measure to the problem of sin and death and sickness—but what if it is the very cure that is needed? McGrath describes our options at the cross of Christ. “Either God is not present at all in this situation, or else God is present in a remarkable and paradoxical way. To affirm that God is indeed present in this situation is to close the door to one way of thinking about God and to open the way to another—for the cross marks the end of a particularwayof thinking about God.”(3) Shockingly, thoroughly, scandalously, the cross depicts a God who throws himself upon sin and sickness to bring the hope of rescue miraculously near.

Some find it shocking, some overwhelming, some almost too good to be true. It is, however, for all.

Stuart McAllister is regional director for the Americas at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Alister McGrath, The Mystery of the Cross, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 104.
(2) Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 196.
(3) Alister McGrath, The Mystery of the Cross, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 103.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Warrior Within

 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” — Acts 1:8

Are you fighting a battle right now? I believe we all have battles to fight at different times in life. The good news is, as followers of Christ, we are not fighting alone. We have a Mighty Warrior and His host of angels on our side. That makes it a totally different fight. The Holy Spirit, our personal Warrior, is in each of us, and He is our Helper.

When we accept Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us—God literally gives each one of us a little piece of Himself. So, what does this mean? It means that all of God’s power, strength, comfort, creativity, and help are available to us at all times.

God never meant for us to live weak, powerless lives—always “running on fumes” and barely getting by. His will is for us to be “more than conquerors” (see Romans 8:37). And through His Spirit, He wants to provide us with the strength and ability we need to succeed in life and lead us through each battle we face.

The enemy will try to stop us from moving forward in the things of God. And he will use any strategy against you, things such as discouragement and distraction. But remember that Almighty God is on your side no matter what you’re facing, and He has a plan for you to be victorious.

Prayer Starter: Father, I believe You lead, guide and direct me every day. Help me to be the strong warrior you have called me to be and follow the plan you have for me to win the battle. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Holy Spirit Enlightens

 

“But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him, because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can’t take it in” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Though I have been a Christian for more than 35 years, I still have much to learn. I am far from perfect. And I do not ever expect to be – in this lifetime. Only our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin.

However, I know from experience that the more time I spend with God through reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on His Word, with the help of the Holy Spirit to interpret God’s truth to me, the more I become like our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

When you spend time daily in Bible reading and study, your life will change. After reading God’s Word consistently for several months, you will be amazed by the things God has done in your life.

How can we understand the Bible? How can we experience its life-changing influence in our lives?

The non-believer and the disobedient, carnal Christian have difficulty in understanding the Bible because they must rely on their human faculties in their attempt to understand things that are of a spiritual nature in God’s Word.

As Paul writes to the church at Corinth,” …the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (KJV).

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 2:9-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Since the Holy Spirit inspired holy men of old to record God’s Word, the Bible, I will ask Him to interpret God’s message to my own life, and today I will encourage someone, or several others, to depend upon the Holy Spirit and to join me in living a supernatural life for the glory of God.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Paul writes in Romans 3:10, “There is no one who always does what is right, not even one.”  And he adds, “All have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory.”  Then how do you go to heaven?

The two criminals being crucified with Jesus mocked him.  But Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.”  Then one thief began to defend Jesus saying, “We are punished justly, getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.” The core of the gospel in one sentence—through the mouth of a crook.  Then the thief asks, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

What right does he have to beg for forgiveness?  The same right you have.  We, like the thief, hear the voice of grace.  Today you will be with me in my kingdom.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – British Airways jet lands in wrong country on purpose

When you’re in London, Düsseldorf, Germany, is 357 miles to the east. Edinburgh, Scotland, is 403 miles to the north. If you’re flying to Düsseldorf, you’d not expect your airplane to land in Edinburgh.

But that’s just what happened Monday.

The aviation company operating British Airways Flight 3271 filed the wrong flight plan, sending the jet to Edinburgh. The pilots, cabin crew, and air traffic controllers thus assumed the plane was supposed to go to Scotland.

When they landed, confusion ensued. Flight attendants asked for a show of hands of passengers who thought they were traveling to Düsseldorf. When every hand went up, they realized that every passenger was now in the wrong place.

We can be both sincere and wrong

There are many ways to be sincerely wrong today.

Same-sex marriage supporters are convinced that biblical, moral, or religious liberty objections are irrelevant or wrong. The same is true with abortion advocates. Their claims seem simple and persuasive: “Everyone should be able to love who they love,” “A woman is the best person to decide what to do with her own body,” and so on.

But as British Airways proved, it’s possible to be both sincere and wrong. Another topic making today’s news illustrates the same point.

Underwater hotels and restaurants are being built for the ultra-wealthy. One submerged hotel offers an underwater villa for $50,000 a night. “Billionaire bunkers” are being constructed around the world, enabling the wealthy to survive nuclear attacks and other catastrophes.

But all is not well on the wealth frontier.

As Bloomberg reports, deceptive billing for private and corporate jet users is escalating. The Department of Education has opened a probe into the $25 million college admissions cheating scandal in which fifty people were criminally charged. And the ex-wife of a man who won a $273 million jackpot does not want him back, telling reporters: “I have morals.”

Another story on our theme is being reported by the New York Times: “Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good.” The wealthy are discovering that human engagement is vital to their well-being. They are spending on experiences such as luxury travel and dining rather than technology and other goods.

Clearly, possessions cannot produce happiness, even when we sincerely think they will.

Three dead ends to avoid

No one thinks in a vacuum.

You and I inherited our Western culture from the Greeks and Romans. Centuries before Christ, their worldview divided the soul from the body, determining that the former is positive while the latter is evil. This belief led centuries of Christians to venerate monastic withdrawal from the world as the highest form of spirituality.

A second version of cultural engagement we inherited from our cultural ancestors splits religion from the “real world.” As we noted yesterday, transactional religion teaches us to placate the gods so they will do what we want. “Go to church on Sunday so God will bless you on Monday” is the formula today. We are therefore told to live in two worlds: the religious and the secular, valuing each as we wish.

A third view is rising quickly in our culture: there is no soul or supernatural reality, so we are free to focus on the material. According to a new survey, 23.1 percent of the American population has “no religion,” slightly more than Catholics (23 percent) and evangelicals (22.5 percent).

Withdrawing from the culture, separating faith from life, or ignoring the supernatural—none of these is the way God intends us to relate to our world.

“The righteous will flourish like a green leaf”

I am studying Proverbs these days and found chapter 11 especially relevant to today’s conversation. Solomon, one of the wealthiest men of all time, warned us: “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (v. 4). He added: “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf” (v. 28).

If we are not to trust in material wealth, how are we to relate to the material world?

  • We are to be righteous so that God can bless the fallen culture through us: “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown” (v. 11).
  • We are to offer biblical wisdom to others: “Where there is no guidance, a people falls” (v. 14).
  • We are to be generous with all: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” (v. 24).

In short, we are to use the material for the spiritual, the temporal for the eternal.

Those we know who do not know Jesus may well be sincere in their unbiblical beliefs, from denying God’s existence to rejecting Jesus’ divinity to questioning the truth or relevance of Scripture. The fact that they are sincerely wrong means they don’t know how wrong they are.

And it means they need our witness and ministry much more than they think they do.

Torn up Bibles and lost souls

Ben Malcolmson played on the 2006 University of Southern California football team that won the Rose Bowl. He told Fox News yesterday, “From the moment I made the team, I knew God had a purpose for me there. I started pressing into that mission from day one.”

But he didn’t know how hard it would be to help his teammates meet his Lord.

He started a Bible study, but no one came. He began a prayer group, but no one joined him. He then placed Bibles at each of his teammates’ lockers on Christmas Eve, days before the team was to play in the Rose Bowl. When he returned to the locker room two days later, he found the Bibles torn up and shredded.

“It was the culmination of a season full of discouragement,” he said.

Nearly four years later, working as an assistant to Coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks, an old friend connected with Malcolmson. He told him that one of the Bibles he gave his fellow players had been picked up and read by a teammate who accepted Christ three days before passing away.

Malcolmson concluded, “Even when I couldn’t see [God’s] hand in the moment, he truly was at work all along.”

How will you follow his example today?

 

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