Charles Stanley – Is Your Faith Genuine?


Matthew 7:13-27

During my first pastorate in the mountains of North Carolina, I traveled throughout the area meeting people, telling them about the Lord, and inviting them to church. They all claimed to believe in Jesus even though many had no interest in church or the Bible and their lives showed no evidence of salvation. I feared that whatever faith they had would not take them to heaven.

Believing in vain is probably more common in the church than we’d care to admit. Some people assume they are Christians simply because they were raised in a Christian family or have attended church since childhood. Sometimes they merely believe the facts about Jesus in the same way that they’re confident George Washington existed.

However, there are also many people who deliberately limit what they believe about Christ and His Word. They don’t want a faith that requires them to forsake their sins and change their lifestyle. If asked what they believe, they may respond that their faith is a private matter.

Other people have been led to think they are saved because of an experience. They may have heard a nebulous invitation to make Jesus a part of their life, or perhaps an encounter at a conference made them feel close to God.

Today’s passage is a sobering warning. How can we be certain that our faith is genuine and our salvation is sure? Jesus said the proof lies in our obedience to God’s Word. If we are in Christ, then as He works to conform us to His image, the evidence will be displayed in our character, conduct, and conversation.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 4-6

Our Daily Bread — Seeing the Light


Bible in a Year:2 Samuel 16–18; Luke 17:20–37

On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 4:12–25

On the streets of Los Angeles, a homeless man struggling with addictions stepped into The Midnight Mission and asked for help. Thus began Brian’s long road to recovery.

In the process Brian rediscovered his love for music. Eventually he joined Street Symphony—a group of music professionals with a heart for the homeless. They asked Brian to perform a solo from Handel’s Messiah known as “The People That Walked in Darkness.” In words written by the prophet Isaiah during a dark period of Israel’s history, he sang, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2 kjv). A music critic for The New Yorker magazine wrote that Brian “made the text sound as though it had been taken from his own life.”

The gospel writer Matthew quoted that same passage. Called by Jesus from a life of cheating his fellow Israelites, Matthew describes how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy by taking His salvation “beyond the Jordan” to “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4:13–15).

Who would have believed one of Caesar’s tax collector thugs (see Matthew 9:9), a street addict like Brian, or people like us would get a chance to show the difference between light and darkness in our own lives?

By Mart DeHaan

Today’s Reflection

How has the light of Christ affected you? In what ways are you reflecting it to others?

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Sting Of Death

At a late night dinner in Colombo last month, my colleague and I were hosted by a loving young Sri Lankan couple and their cricket-loving lad. Conversation, calamari, caramel custard, and coffee was enjoyed well into midnight at the Cinnamon Grand—a delightful combo that’s etched forever into our memories.

My visits to Colombo have always been heart-warming. Lovely people, luscious land, and languid mood. But there’s so much more to this people and to this place that fascinates me. Thirty brutal years of sweat, blood, and tears. Thirty years of an ugly civil war. Thirty years of fear, hurt, and pain. Thirty years of despair that ended in 2009.

In my visits, I’ve had the privilege of interacting with young and old Sri Lankans: those who have been in the thick of all that transpired in those thirty ghastly years. I’ve also spoken to the ones born during that era, growing up in the midst of impending danger, in the very heart of chaos, in the hearing and sight of bomb blasts. And I have also been honoured to know the likes of our young cricket-loving host, born in an era of peace—or so we thought. The innocence in my little friend’s face, the aspirations in his heart to be a national cricketer in the Sri Lankan squad, and the light in his eyes at the dessert counter are all still fresh in my eyes. I was so happy that this little child didn’t have to go through what his parents did.

But all of this came crashing down when I learned that the tenure of peace was just a mere, ten years.

The Cinnamon Grand was one of the eight blast sites. Across this priceless jewel in the Indian Ocean, on Resurrection day, eight sites were chosen for destruction, the majority of which were churches. On the very day that the worldwide church celebrates the joyous triumph of life over death and good over evil, bomb blasts and killings, conspiracy and treachery, sorrow and pain, agony and mourning made a mockery of God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation to all of humankind. Almost three hundred were killed and about five hundred more injured.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Sting Of Death

Joyce Meyer – On-Purpose Thinking


But certain individuals have missed the mark on this very matter [and] have wandered away into vain arguments and discussions and purposeless talk. — 1 Timothy 1:6 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

The Bible teaches us that our words have power and we get exactly what we speak. Along with that, our thoughts affect our moods and attitudes. In other words, your attitude in life affects your altitude in life, meaning your attitude determines how far you can go in life—how far you can go in pursuing your dreams, relationships, business, etc.

Your thoughts and my thoughts will determine the kind of lives we will have in the future. And you don’t have to think about and focus on whatever falls into your head. You can think things on purpose. Sometimes, it is good to just sit down and have a think session. And then it’s good to have a confession session. After almost 40 years of knowing these things, I still have to practice them daily. Be determined to maintain good thoughts.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I want to be more purposeful with my thoughts and words. Holy Spirit, please help me today and every day to be more conscious about what I choose to think and say. Help me to line up my thoughts with Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Abounding Therein


“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8, KJV). 

Some years ago, while speaking at the University of Houston, I was told about a brilliant philosophy major. He was much older than most of the other students, having spent many years in the military before he returned to do graduate work.

He was so gifted, so brilliant, so knowledgeable that even the professors were impressed by his ability to comprehend quickly and to debate rationally. He was an atheist, and he had a way of embarrassing the Christians who tried to witness to him.

During one of my visits to the university, I was asked to talk with him about Christ. We sat in a booth in the student center, contrasting his philosophy of life with the Word of God. It was an unusual dialogue. He successfully monopolized the conversation with his philosophy of unbelief in God.

At every opportunity, I would remind him that God loved him and offered a wonderful plan for his life. I showed him various passages of Scripture concerning the person of Jesus Christ (John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1). He seemed to ignore everything I said; there appeared to be no communication between us whatsoever.

A couple of hours passed, and it was getting late. I felt that I was wasting my time and there was no need to continue the discussion. He agreed to call it a day. A friend and staff member who was with me suggested to this student that we would be glad to drop him off at his home on the way to my hotel.

As we got into the car, his first words were, “Everything you said tonight hit me right in the heart. I want to receive Christ. Tell me how I can do it right now.” Even though I had not sensed it during our conversation, the Holy Spirit – who really does care – had been speaking to his heart through the truth of God’s Word which I had shared with him.

Bible Reading: Colossians 2:1-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not depend upon my own wisdom, my personality or even my training to share Christ effectively with others, but I will commit myself to talk about Him wherever I go, depending upon the Holy Spirit to empower me and speak through me to the needs of others.

Max Lucado – Move the Stone


Listen to Today’s Devotion

Standing in a cemetery,  Jesus issued a command, “Move the stone.”

There was no singing at the funeral Jesus attended.  Mourning.  Weeping.  Wailing.  People shuffled about aimlessly, their eyes full of fear.  The foreboding news reminded them of their own fate.  Another prisoner had been marched from death row to the gallows.  Lazarus was dead.

And Jesus wept—not for the dead but for the living.  He wept not for the one in the cave of death but for those in the cave of fear.  He wept for those who, though alive, were dead.  He wept for those who, though free, were prisoners, held captive by their fear of death.

Stones have never stood in God’s way.  They didn’t in Bethany two thousand years ago.  And stones don’t stand in His way today.  He called Lazarus out of the grave of death.  And He calls us out of the grave of fear.

Read more Six Hours One Friday

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.


Denison Forum – Chip and Joanna Gaines make the ‘Time 100’: Three ways the church can change the world

Joanna and Chip Gaines made the Time 100 this year.

Tim Tebow’s article about them applauds “the genuine passion they have for making a difference in people’s lives.” He adds, “They are also grounded in a strong faith, which keeps them focused on what truly matters in life.”

Any time followers of Jesus make the news because of their cultural relevance, the kingdom advances and God is glorified. As we noted yesterday, Christians across history have made an amazing difference in our world. From women’s rights to the Scientific Revolution, educational excellence, modern medicine, and the abolition of slavery, believers have played a crucial role in human flourishing.

However, it seems that many today see the church as less relevant than Christians. Far less, in fact.

How many religious Americans go to church?

Last Sunday, most churches experienced their highest attendance of the year. Next Sunday, many of these congregations will see half the numbers they witnessed on Easter.

Our culture has already moved past the holiday considered by Christian tradition to be the highest and holiest day of the year. Except for references to Sunday’s tragedy in Sri Lanka and post-Easter sales in stores, the day seems to be over.

Of course, the risen Christ is just as alive and just as relevant today as when he first rose from the dead. But his church seems to be less so.

According to Gallup, church membership in America is down from 70 percent in 1999 to 50 percent today. One factor is the rise of the “nones”: the number of Americans who say they have no religious affiliation has grown from 10 percent in 1998 to 23 percent today.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Chip and Joanna Gaines make the ‘Time 100’: Three ways the church can change the world