Charles Stanley – Holding Fast the Faithful Word

 

Titus 1:5-9

Today’s passage describes God’s requirement for elders and pastors in the church. Every believer, however, should aspire to the qualities mentioned, because they exemplify the spiritual maturity Christ desires for all of us. While everything listed is praiseworthy, the last item—“holding fast the faithful word”—is the foundation for all the rest (1 Timothy 1:9).

To hold fast means “to adhere, cling, or be devoted.” The phrase implies not only believing God’s Word to be true but also doing what it says by applying scriptural truths to every area of life. Peter described such devotion this way: “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

A consistent intake of Scripture is essential for our spiritual growth, and it enables us to distinguish between truth and error. The Bible is called “the faithful word” because it’s reliable and true. The Word of God is the means by which those who hold fast to it can “exhort in sound doctrine and … refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

If we aren’t grounded in Scripture, we’ll unknowingly accept philosophies and teachings that will lead us astray. But when biblical truth has saturated our mind and heart, we’ll sense a red flag pop up in our spirit whenever we encounter an erroneous concept.

God’s Word is the compass for our life—not something we read only occasionally. It’s nutrition for our spiritual growth, a guide for life, protection from sin and error, and a means of knowing God better.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — Biblical Prescription

 

Bible in a Year:1 Kings 10–11; Luke 21:20–38

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 17:19–22

Greg and Elizabeth have a regular “Joke Night” with their four school-age children. Each child brings several jokes they’ve read or heard (or made up themselves!) during the week to tell at the dinner table. This tradition has created joyful memories of fun shared around the table. Greg and Elizabeth even noticed the laughter was healthy for their children, lifting their spirits on difficult days.

The benefit of joyful conversation around the dinner table was observed by C. S. Lewis, who wrote, “The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.”

The wisdom of fostering a joyful heart is found in Proverbs 17:22, where we read, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” The proverb offers a “prescription” to stimulate health and healing—allowing joy to fill our hearts, a medicine that costs little and yields great results.

We all need this biblical prescription. When we bring joy into our conversations, it can put a disagreement into perspective. It can help us to experience peace, even after a stressful test at school or a difficult day at work. Laughter among family and friends can create a safe place where we both know and feel that we’re loved.

Do you need to incorporate more laughter into your life as “good medicine” for your spirit? Remember, you have encouragement from Scripture to cultivate a cheerful heart.

By Lisa M. Samra

Today’s Reflection

How has good humor helped you deal with life’s challenges recently? What does it mean for you to be filled with the joy of the Lord?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Fully Human

 

The glory of God is the human person fully alive. I first read this quote by Irenaeus of Lyons while still a graduate student. In my early rendering of this evocative statement, I imagined people at play in a field of flowers, the sun shining brightly. Everyone is happy and smiling, laughing even, as they dance and play in the fields of the Lord. As I pictured it in my mind’s eye, the human person fully alive was a person alive to possibility, never-ending opportunities, and always happy. How could it be otherwise with God’s glory as the enlivening force?

One author suggests the same in his commentary on Irenaeus’ statement:

“God’s intentions towards me might be better than I’d thought. His happiness and my happiness are tied together? My coming fully alive is what He’s committed to? That’s the offer of Christianity? Wow! I mean, it would make no small difference if we knew–and I mean really knew–that down-deep-in-your-toes kind of knowing that no one and nothing can talk you out of–if we knew that our lives and God’s glory were bound together. Things would start looking up. It would feel promising…the offer is life.”(1)

Despite my romantic imagination and the author’s exuberant interpretation, I am often perplexed as to just what “fully alive” looks like for many people in our world. How would this read to women in the Congo, for example, whose lives are torn apart by tribal war and violence against their own bodies? What would this mean to an acquaintance of mine who is a young father recently diagnosed with lymphoma? What about those who are depressed or those who live with profound disabilities?

If feeling alive is only that God is happy when we are happy, then perhaps God is quite sad. Surely God’s glory is much larger than human happiness, isn’t it? Certainly, happiness is a gift and a blessing of the human experience, and for many it is there in abundance. Yet, are those who have reason for sorrow—those who do not find themselves amidst fields of flowers or bounty, those who have to work to find goodness—are they beyond the reflection of God’s glory?

The reality is that Irenaeus’ oft-used and oft-interpreted statement had a specific, apologetic context that was not really about human happiness. Irenaeus lived during a time when gnostic sects were trying to deny the real flesh and blood reality of Jesus. In their alternative view, only the spirit was redeemed, and the body should be ignored at best, or indulged at worst, since nothing regarding the body mattered. As a result, they denied the full humanity of Jesus. He could not have died a physical death on the cross, since he was merely an enlightened spirit, or some form of lesser deity. And he was certainly not one who would enter into the created world to take on the messy nature of life.(2)

When Irenaeus describes the glory of God as the human being fully alive he is correcting this aberrant and heretical notion that Jesus was not fully human. Irenaeus countered that in fact, the glory of God so inhabited this man from Nazareth that he was fully alive to all of what it meant to be human. Jesus experienced hunger, thirst, weariness, frustration, sorrow, and despair—and he experienced the joy and beauty that came from complete dependence on God. To be fully alive, as one sees in the life of Jesus, includes all human experience—the joys as well as the sorrows.

Irenaeus’ continues his thought by saying: “[T]he life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation already brings life to all living beings on the earth, how much more will the manifestation of the Father by the Word bring life to those who see God.”(3) Human beings are fully alive as they find life in this one who in his human life reveals both the eternal God and the vision of God for fully alive human beings. Certainly, our lives include events and seasons that we wish were not part of the fully alive human experience. But perhaps those who seek true life might recognize these appointments with beginnings and endings, joys and sorrows, death and resurrection as an entryway into a deeper understanding of the human experience. And as that door is opened, we can be ushered into the deep and abiding fellowship of the Divine Community—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—not phantom spirits, not distant deities, but intimates to all that it means to be human.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the writing and speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

(1) John Eldridge, Waking the Dead (Nashville: Thomas-Nelson Publishers, 2003), 12.
(2) Cyril Richardson ed., Early Christian Fathers (New York: Collier Books, 1970), 345.
(3) Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, (IV, 20, 7).

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Best Thing for You

 

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them accordingly…. — Romans 12:6 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

We all have different gifts, but we shouldn’t compare or be jealous of the gifts of others.

I remember hearing one preacher talk of how often he saw Jesus. I had never seen Jesus, so I wondered what was wrong with me.

Another person I knew prayed four hours every morning. I could not find enough to pray about to keep praying for four hours and always ended up bored and sleepy, so I wondered what was wrong with me.

I had no gift to remember large portions of Scripture like someone I knew, who memorized all the Psalms and Proverbs as well as other entire books of the Bible, so I wondered what was wrong with me.

I finally realized that nothing was wrong with me.

Whatever we cannot do, there are many other things we can. Whatever someone else can do, there are also things they cannot. Don’t let Satan deceive you any longer. Don’t compare yourself with anyone in any way, especially not spiritually.

We can see other people’s good examples and be encouraged by them, but they must never become our standard. Even if we learn how to do something from them, we still will not do it exactly the same way.

At some time or another, I think we all fall into the trap of wondering why we are not like others we know or why we don’t have the same experiences they do, but it is a trap—and a dangerous one. We are caught in a snare set by Satan when we enter into spiritual competition and comparison, and we become dissatisfied with what God is giving to us.

We should trust that God will do the best thing for each of us and let Him choose what that is. If we trust God in this way, we can lay aside our fears and insecurities about ourselves.

I am sure we would all like to see into the spiritual realm and have an abundance of supernatural experiences, but getting frustrated if we don’t only steals our peace, and certainly does not produce visions of Jesus.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for making me a special individual with unique gifts and talents. Help me today and every day to be the best me I can be. Help me to also love and appreciate others for their unique gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Lord Forgave You

 

“Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of His deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don’t worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:12,13).

  1. C. Penney, a devout Christian whom I knew personally, built one of America’s leading businesses on the principle of the Golden Rule, taught by our Lord:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

He and other gentle men have developed tenderness and sensitivity to others through their years of maturing, often through many difficult and trying experiences. So should we as Christians seek to develop gentle spirits through the trials and tribulations that God permits us to go through.

Do you lack gentleness in your life?

Do you have a tendency to be arrogant, proud, boastful?

Are you overbearing or even coarse and rude with others?

By faith you can become a gentle person. By faith you can confess your sins and know that they have been forgiven. By faith you can appropriate the filling of the Spirit of Christ. By faith you can practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others.

The Lord has commanded us to be gentle people, so by faith we can ask for that portion of the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness and love, and know that He is changing us for the better.

As I have cautioned with regard to other Christlike traits, this is one which usually develops over an extended period of time, usually through the maturing process that comes only with time and trials and sometimes tribulation. Pray that God will give you patience with yourself as you mature into the gentle and humble person He wants you to be.

Bible Reading: Colossians 3:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  God’s promise to me is that He forgives; with His help I will forgive and practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others, with the prayer that I may be more and more conformed to the image of my Lord.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God’s Love for His Children

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Certain things about God are easy to imagine.  I can imagine him creating the world and suspending the stars.  I can envision him as almighty, all-powerful, and in control. I can fathom a God who knows me, who made me, and I can even fathom a God who hears me.

But a God who is in love with me?  A God who is crazy for me?  A God who cheers for me?  But that is the message of the Bible.  Our Father is relentlessly in pursuit of his children.  He has called us home with his word, paved the path with his blood, and is longing for our arrival.  God’s love for his children is the message of the Bible.

Read more Applause of Heaven

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Dangerous asteroids and a global ISIS: Finding hope in a surprising story

pophis was the ancient Egyptian spirit of evil, darkness, and destruction. In ten years, an asteroid named for this frightening deity will come closer to our planet than the orbit of our weather satellites.

It will pass us on April 13, 2029, and will be so close that we will be able to see it with the unaided eye for several hours. The asteroid is estimated to be around 1,115 feet in diameter, nearly four times taller than the Statue of Liberty.

NASA describes it as “one of the most important near-Earth asteroids ever discovered.” If Apophis were to strike us, it would cause what the space agency calls “major damage to our planet and likely to our civilization as well.”

Fortunately, the asteroid will not hit us. If you’re thinking that you’re therefore safe, you might think again.

NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and their international partners are convening this week at a Planetary Defense Conference. This is not a speculative exercise. At the start of the year, more than 19,000 near-Earth objects (NEOs) had already been discovered. Astronomers find thirty more each week to add to the list.

Experts estimate that they have found only one-third of the NEOs believed to exist. So far, astronomers have not discovered asteroids on a collision course with our planet. But, what would we do if they did?

NASA is planning a mission called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) to practice deflecting asteroids. No one yet knows if this experimental technology will work when needed.

“Jihad will continue until doomsday”

Closer to earth, the leader of ISIS appeared for the first time in five years in a video released by the group.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Dangerous asteroids and a global ISIS: Finding hope in a surprising story