Charles Stanley – The Justice of Divine Judgment

 

Revelation 20:11-15

Every person will face God on judgment day. Whenever that topic comes up, I am usually asked something like, “What about people who live in remote areas, who will never hear about Jesus?” The concerned questioner is really wondering, How could a loving Lord send an ignorant person to hell? In other words, how can it be fair to condemn those who have never heard the gospel?

To understand how God judges, we should recognize two truths about Him. First, He is not limited. While whole people groups still have no Scripture in their language, God always reaches individuals whose hearts are open to knowing Him. Men like Abraham and Moses had no Scriptures, and yet the Lord spoke to them.

Second, God reveals Himself to all people, whether or not they have access to the Bible. As we saw yesterday, He not only demonstrates His power and attributes through creation; He also programs our conscience to understand the basic distinctions between right and wrong. For those who are blessed to hear the gospel at some point, Jesus Christ is the greatest revelation of God in their life.

When people stand before the Father, He will judge them on three criteria: the amount of truth to which each has been exposed; how many opportunities there were to accept the truth and share it with others; and what was done with those opportunities. The believer’s responsibility, then, is to reach as many as possible with the gospel so that no one need ask, “What about those who have never heard of Jesus?”

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 29-31

 

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Our Daily Bread — Divine Escape

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 10–12; John 6:45–71

So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

John 11:53

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 11:45-53

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mystery The Clocks features antagonists who commit a series of murders. Although their initial plot targeted a single victim, they began taking more lives in order to cover up the original crime. When confronted by Poirot, a conspirator confessed, “It was only supposed to be the one murder.”

Like the schemers in the story, the religious authorities formed a conspiracy of their own. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38–44), they called an emergency meeting and plotted to kill Him (vv. 45–53). But they didn’t stop there. After Jesus rose from the dead, the religious leaders spread lies about what happened at the grave (Matthew 28:12–15). Then they began a campaign to silence Jesus’s followers (Acts 7:57–8:3). What started as a religious plot against one man for the “greater good” of the nation became a web of lies, deceit, and multiple casualties.

Sin plunges us down a road that often has no end in sight, but God always provides a way of escape. When Caiaphas the high priest said, “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50), he didn’t understand the profound truth of his words. The conspiracy of the religious leaders would help bring about the redemption of mankind.

Jesus saves us from sin’s vicious grip. Have you received the freedom He offers?

By Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What road are you going down that could take you further away from God? He offers real freedom. What do you need to confess to Him today?

Give sin room, and it can take over a life.

To learn more about the Gospels that record the life of Jesus, visit christianuniversity.org/NT331.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Wounds Honored

 

Why Won’t God Heal Amputees, a popular website and one-time viral You Tube video, puts forward the basic premise that God doesn’t answer prayer since God has never healed an amputee. By extension, they make the assertion that since God doesn’t heal every person of every infirmity, God does not exist.

While there are obvious false assumptions made about God, prayer, and healing (how does one know that in the whole world God has not healed an amputee, for starters) many interesting questions are raised for those who believe in both God and prayer. Those who do pray for healing often fail to experience it in the way they expect—healing rarely parallels a conventional or traditional sense of that word. Loved ones die of cancer, friends are killed in car accidents, economic catastrophe befalls even the most frugal, and people in much of the developing world die from diseases long cured in the West. Beyond the realm of physical healing, many experience emotional and psychological trauma that leave open and festering wounds. Or, there are those perpetual personality ticks and quirks that seem beyond the reach of the supernatural. Given all of this contrary experience, what does it mean to receive healing, and should one hold out hope that healing can come in this world? Specifically, for those who pray, and for those who believe that God does heal, how might the persistence of wounds—psychological, emotional and physical—be understood?

In a memorable New York Times article, Marcia Mount Shoop writes of her horrific rape as a fifteen year old girl.(1) As the descendant of three generations of ministers she ran to the safest place she knew after suffering this horrific trauma—the church. Yet as she stood amid the congregants singing hymns and reciting creeds, she felt no relief. Even her favorite verse from Romans, ‘and we know that in all things God works for good with those who love him’ sounded hollow and brought little comfort. How could she ever be healed or experience ‘good’ after this horrific act of violence?

Once at home, alone with the secret of her rape, Marcia Shoop found something that enabled her to survive. “I felt Jesus so close,” she recalled in an interview. “It wasn’t the same Jesus I experienced at church. It was this tiny, audible whisper that said, ‘I know what happened. I understand.’ And it kept me alive, that frayed little thread.”(2)

The hope that Jesus was physically close to her in her pain led Ms. Shoop to become a minister herself more than a quarter century after her horrific rape. It also led her to more deeply connect her body with her soul and mind. This re-connection of the body with soul and with mind is where she experienced what she would call ‘healing.’ God was with her in the living, breathing, physical reality of Jesus who likewise continued to bear the wounds of his own crucifixion and torture after the gospel writers testify to him having been raised from the dead.

The Gospel of John records the risen Jesus as inviting Thomas to “reach your finger and see my hands; and reach your hand, and put it into my side.”(3) Jesus was not a disembodied spirit without flesh and blood as a result of his resurrection from the dead. He was a body, and a body that was wounded. Even the resurrection did not take away his bodily scars! Pondering this reality can bring great hope to those who follow Jesus, and to all who wonder about how they might find healing for their wounds. For healing did not equate a lack of wounding, or physical perfection—being untouched by the sorrow and suffering of a world gone horribly wrong—even for Jesus.

For Ms. Shoop, healing didn’t mean the total erasure of the pain and horror of her rape, as difficult as it was to bear that wound. It meant that she encountered the wounded God in the person of Jesus who continued to bear the scars and wounds of his crucifixion. As she recalled, “What happened to me wasn’t ‘for the good,’” referring again to her favorite passage in Romans. But God took the garbage, the stench, [of that horrible event] and gently, tenderly, indignantly wove it into this moment of redemption. What a gift.”(4)

Healing is not a gift that comes instantly, nor does it always look like what we expect. It is often a slow, painful journey through the void and desolation of suffering. It will not erase our wounds. Yet, the promise of resurrection, of new life that comes even with wounded hands and sides, offers another picture of healing where being an ‘amputee’ might be honored and redeemed.

 

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

 

(1) Samuel G. Freedman, “A Rape Survivor Now Ministers Body and Soul,” The New York Times Online, June 29, 2012. Accessed June 29, 2012.
(2) Ibid., accessed June 29, 2012.
(3) John 20:27.
(4) Freedman, The New York Times Online, June 29, 2012. Accessed June 29, 2012.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Winning God’s Way

 

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. — Psalm 25:4

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Most of us are happy when we get what we want. That’s human nature. But when we walk with God as we should, other things become more important than seeing our desires fulfilled—things like seeking God’s desires for our lives, hearing His voice as we make decisions, and being obedient to His leading in every situation.

Dave and I once saw a picture in a store in the mall and I wanted to buy it. Dave didn’t think we needed it, so I threw one of my silent temper tantrums; I simply became quiet because I was angry.

“You okay?” Dave asked.

“Fine. I’m fine, fine, just fine.” I responded with my mouth while my mind was thinking, You always try to tell me what to do. What can’t you just leave me alone and let me do what I want to do? Neh, neh, neh.

I continued pouting for about an hour. I was trying to manipulate Dave. I knew that with his peaceful, phlegmatic personality; he would rather let me have my way than fight with me. I was too immature in the Lord to understand that my behavior was ungodly.

I began to push Dave to buy the picture, and we finally bought it. As I placed it in my home, the Holy Spirit said to me, “You know, you really didn’t win. You got your picture, but you still lost because you didn’t do it My way.”

The only way to win in life is to do things God’s way. Then, even if we don’t get what we want, we have the great satisfaction of knowing we have obeyed His voice—and that outlasts the satisfaction that comes with any earthly possession or achievement.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to do things Your way. Please continue to change me so my thoughts, words, attitudes and actions reflect Your character in everything I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Preserved From the Enemy

 

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me” (Psalm 138:7, KJV).

Robert Bruce, the famous emancipator of Scotland, was fleeing from his enemies. He sought refuge in a cave.

Hot on his trail, his enemies reached his hideout where they saw that a spider had built a web over the mouth of the cave. His pursuers, concluding that he could not have entered without first destroying the web, turned around and went on their way.

“Oh God,” Bruce prayed, “I thank Thee that in the tiny bowels of a spider you can place for me a shelter, and then send the spider in time to place it for my protection.”

“God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform,” and whatever is necessary to protect His children from their enemies will be done.

All of life’s journey is summed up in that one work “walk.” Constant action, movement onward, never stationary, always on the move. Life is not simply a walk; often it is a walk “in the midst of trouble.” Since sin came into the world, pleasure is mixed with pain. Trials and conflict often seem to mar the pathway.

To the trusting, confident believer in Christ, however, there is certain renewal and deliverance. Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit, given full control, guarantees victory and joy and abundant life – supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Psalm 138:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will see God’s protecting hand in my walk with Him today and proclaim His faithfulness to others.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Resentment Can Be Deadly

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Resentment is the cocaine of the emotions, causing our blood to pump.  And our energy level to rise. There is a dangerous point at which our anger ceases to be an emotion and becomes a driving force.  That’s why bitter people complain to anyone who will listen.

And, like cocaine, resentment can kill.  Physically– with high blood pressure and other conditions. Emotionally– with anxiety and depression.  Spiritually– as it shrivels the soul.

Hatred is the rabid dog that turns on its owner.  Revenge is the raging fire that consumes the arsonist. Bitterness is the trap that snares the hunter.  And mercy….mercy is the choice that can set them all free.

Read more Applause of Heaven

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Commencement speaker pays student debt for graduating class

There are more than four thousand colleges and universities in the United States. I’m guessing that none of them heard a commencement address quite like the one delivered at Morehouse College yesterday.

Robert F. Smith, a billionaire investor known as the wealthiest black man in America, told the crowd that he and his family would pay off the entire graduating class’s student debt. David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse, called Mr. Smith’s generosity “a liberation gift, meaning this frees these young men from having to make their career decisions based on their debt. This allows them to pursue what they are passionate about.”

Mr. Smith’s gift may be worth about $40 million, according to Morehouse officials.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love”

Imagine that you were one of the 396 young men graduating from Morehouse yesterday. I can think of three reasons you might decline Mr. Smith’s remarkable generosity.

You could do so out of a self-reliant determination to pay your debts yourself. You could refuse to feel indebted to Mr. Smith. Or you could consider yourself unworthy of such grace.

Now let’s consider Robert Smith’s gift to the Morehouse graduates as a parable.

The Creator of the universe considers our eternal life worth the death of his Son: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Our Father loves us unconditionally: “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37–39).

God’s love for us is unwavering: “His steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:26). It “surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). It is inclusive: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

In short, God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Anything God has ever done, he can still do.

However, for most of my life, I have struggled to accept God’s grace. It’s not that I think I can pay my spiritual debts myself and earn my way into heaven, or that I don’t want to be indebted to God. Rather, it’s hard for me to see myself as worthy of such love.

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