Charles Stanley – What Makes a Church Powerful?


1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

What factors determine whether a church is powerful or weak? Oftentimes people make such evaluations based on appearances and human reasoning rather than on God’s Word.

For instance, large congregations with dynamic worship services and programs for every age and interest group look impressive. Or a church could be viewed as powerful because of its prominent location, a big budget, or the pastor with a magnetic personality. In contrast, small churches—especially those with few members, a rural setting, and little money—are often considered lesser.

The point is that we can’t judge a church’s strength or weakness based on outward factors like size, location, prosperity, or prominence. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians points out that a strong church is one that is founded on the message of the cross and grounded in God’s wisdom rather than the world’s.

God’s power is given to the church for His purposes, not for human agendas. And it isn’t a persuasive sermon but the gospel of Christ that can save souls. Some pastors may be able to manipulate people, but only God’s Spirit brings the genuine conviction of sin that leads to repentance and salvation.

For divine power to flow into and through a local body, that church must hold firmly to Scripture. What’s more, it cannot use techniques derived from worldly thinking but must rely on God’s direction.

A faith community cannot be powerful unless the people within it are individually submitted to Christ and empowered by Him. This means our commitment to Jesus affects our churches for better or for worse.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 25-26

Our Daily Bread — Borrowed Blessings


Bible in a Year:Judges 13–15; Luke 6:27–49

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.

Psalm 24:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Chronicles 29:6–16

As we bowed our heads over lunch, my friend Jeff prayed: “Father, thank You for letting us breathe Your air and eat Your food.” Jeff had just been through a difficult job loss, so his heartfelt trust in God and recognition that everything belongs to Him profoundly moved me. I found myself thinking: Do I honestly understand that even the most basic, everyday things in my life are really God’s, and He’s simply letting me use them?

When King David received offerings from the people of Israel for building the temple in Jerusalem, he prayed, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” Then he added, “All of it belongs to you” (1 Chronicles 29:14, 16).

Scripture tells us that even “the ability to produce wealth” and earn a living come from Him (Deuteronomy 8:18). Understanding that all we have is borrowed encourages us to loosen our grip on the stuff of this world and live with open hands and hearts—sharing freely because we’re deeply thankful for the kindnesses we receive daily.

God is a generous giver—so loving that He even gave up His Son “for us all” (Romans 8:32). Because we have been given so much, may we give Him our heartfelt thanks for blessings small and large.

By James Banks

Today’s Reflection

What borrowed blessing can you thank God for today? How does it help to know that every good gift is from Him?

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Stepping into the Reality of Suffering

I recently sat across from a woman I wanted to adopt as a kind of nonna.(1) Originally from Croatia, she spoke with a soft accent and combination of wisdom and kindness. In observing my 5-year-old son with me, she noted, “He has a high sense of injustice.” I nodded in agreement. My little guy has begun that tortured engagement with life—the wrestling of desire to shield our eyes from sorrow with the opportunity to see our part in the larger broken story around us and participate in facets of restoration.

Years ago it was in a broken place where I met Annie. I was nervous as I walked through the streets of Amsterdam’s famous red light district, so different from anything I had seen before. About four hundred windows line cobblestone streets, a person behind each one. There are women of all ages, transgender and transvestite workers as well. Organized by nationality, it is a market of sorts, where the commodity for sale is the body of another. I was with the director of Scharlaken Koord, a Dutch organization that offers assistance to women working in prostitution.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Stepping into the Reality of Suffering

Joyce Meyer – The Fast Pace of Life


Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. — Matthew 11:28

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

We really do live in a time-crunched world; just about everything we do seems to be urgent. We live under incredible pressure and run from one thing to the next—to the point that we may neglect the things that are really important in life: family, our health, God, and building up our spiritual lives.

The truth is, we cannot handle life apart from God. We cannot handle the pressure, the confusion, and the stress without Him. Our marriages will suffer, we will experience financial pressure, and our relationships won’t thrive if we do not study God’s Word and take time to pray.

But there is good news to be thankful for—God will strengthen us and enable us to handle life peacefully and wisely if we start praying about things instead of merely trying to get through the day. God will renew our strength and enable us to handle life and not be weary (see Isaiah 40:31).

Prayer Starter: Father, I am so thankful that You give me peace and rest even in the midst of a busy life. Help me to lean on You today and use wisdom in setting my schedule. You are the strength of my life, and I totally depend on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Mark of Ownership


“He has put His brand upon us – His mark of ownership – and given us His Holy Spirit in our hearts as guarantee that we belong to Him, and as the first installment of all that He is going to give us” (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Some time ago, a young Christian came to share his problems. He was very frustrated and confused, and he spoke of the constant defeat and fruitlessness which he experienced in the Christian life.

“You don’t have to live in defeat,” I said to him.

The young man registered surprise.

“You can live a life of victory, a life of joy, a life of fruitfulness,” I assured him. “In fact, by the grace of God – and to Him alone be the glory – for more than 25 years as a Christian I do not recall a single hour of broken fellowship with the Lord Jesus.”

He was really shocked at that.

“Do you mean you haven’t sinned in 25 years?” he asked.

“No, that’s not what I mean, I replied. “I have sinned regrettably, I have grieved and quenched the Spirit at times with impatience, anger or some other expression of the flesh. But when I grieve the Spirit, I know exactly what to do. I breathe spiritually. I confess my sin to God and immediately receive His forgiveness and cleansing, and by faith I continue to walk in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.”

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 12:3-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing that a believer can live a supernatural, holy life only as he yields to the control of the Holy Spirit, I will seek to practice holiness in my personal life and encourage other Christians to do the same.

Max Lucado – Caught in a Storm


Listen to Today’s Devotion

How sturdy is your life when faced with the storm of futility, wondering what is the purpose of it all? What about the storm of failure, when you blew it and let everyone down…or the storm of finality —tears, and flowers— an open grave.

Two thousand years ago during six hours on a Friday, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Jesus gave us three anchor points that can stand against any storm.  The first anchor point is my life is not futile.  The second is my failures are not fatal. And the third anchor point is my death is not final.  So, when the storm comes, anchor deep, say a prayer, and hold on.  And don’t be surprised if someone walks across the water to help you.

Read more Six Hours One Friday

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

Denison Forum – Police officers replace tools stolen by thieves


Adrian Salgado is a gardener in Santa Ana, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.

When thieves stole his truck, cell phone, landscaping equipment, and a thousand dollars in rent money, he lost his only means of supporting himself and his family. With the money gone, he had no way to replace his tools.

Police were able to recover Salgado’s truck, but his equipment—including a lawnmower, edger, hand tools, and leaf blower—was gone.

The police officers felt they had to do something to help. They pooled their resources, obtained money from their police association, and went shopping. Home Depot chipped in another hundred dollars and offered military discounts to the officers who serve as reservists.

The police officers gave the new tools to Salgado, who immediately went back to work. One officer said, “I’ve been doing this job for twenty-seven years. Every so often it’s a good day. That was a good day.”

Does God understand?

It is gratifying to see police officers caring so personally for those they serve. In our broken world, there are times when we may wonder if God feels the same way about us.

Over the weekend, a teenager was fatally shot after knocking on the wrong door in Atlanta. A father of four is on life support after a fight with another man in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium left him with a fractured skull. A South Carolina student got into a car, erroneously thinking it was her Uber ride and was later found dead. The driver has been arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping.

Each day’s news gives us reason to question whether the Creator cares what happens to his creation. For assurance that he does, let’s explore a question many of us may not have asked before.

Why was Jesus born?

If I asked you why Jesus came to the earth, you’d say: to die for our sins.

You’d be right, of course.

But what would you say if I asked you why he had to be born to die?

We know that his virgin birth in Bethlehem fulfilled prophecy (cf. Micah 5:2; Isaiah 7:14). But why did God make these predictions?

If Jesus’ only purpose in coming was to die, why couldn’t he appear as an adult and immediately die on the cross for our sins?

We know that Jesus’ earthly ministry included healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and raising the dead. It initiated the apostolic movement that carried the gospel forward to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Jesus’ incarnation also caused him to experience hunger in the desert (Matthew 4:2), thirst on the cross (John 19:28), weariness at Jacob’s well (John 4:6), and grief at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:35). He was tempted in the wilderness and beyond. As a result, we know that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

But here’s a further question: Did Jesus have to go through his incarnation to understand the human condition?

What did God learn about us?

Are we saying that the omniscient Lord did not know as much about us before Christmas as he did after Easter? That the Father does not understand us as well as the Son? That the God of the Old Testament does not know us as well as the God of the New Testament?

Remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). His Father says of himself, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). The immutability of God is a fact woven all through Scripture.

As is the omniscience of God. He knows “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3) so that the Son does not know anything the Father does not know.

What did we learn about God?

All this to say, God did not learn something about us because of the incarnation. But we learned something about him.

Max Lucado: “Why did God leave us one tale after another of wounded lives being restored? It isn’t to tell us what Jesus did. It’s to tell us what Jesus does.” It’s to prove to us that the sovereign God of the universe understands what it is to hunger, thirst, grow weary, suffer grief, and face temptation.

To repeat Hebrews 4:15, we know that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Here’s the consequence: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16).

What will you bring to God?

The gospel is relevant to our post-Christian, secularist, relativistic culture because Jesus is relevant to our post-Christian, secularist, relativistic culture. In all of human history, no one else has proven so fully his solidarity with the human race. No one else has proven so powerfully his understanding of our condition and compassion for our needs.

This is why you and I must share his grace in our love and speak his truth to our times. We represent the only One who meets every need of every person we know.

And it’s why we must resist the self-reliance of our culture by coming to Jesus with our needs and challenges, questions and struggles. When we do, we will “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Every time.

What do you need to bring to the throne of grace today?