Charles Stanley – Salvation: The First Step

 

Acts 16:19-40

After a baby takes his first steps, the parents call loved ones. They excitedly announce the awesome accomplishment, which is the beginning of a new life of greater mobility and maturity. In the same way, the Christian life begins with a first step—salvation. But it’s only the start of a new life of increasing spiritual growth.

When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). It’s simple enough that even a child can do it, and after salvation, we are all like babies taking our first steps. A new believer doesn’t understand all the doctrines of salvation any more than a toddler knows all the mechanics of walking. However, once we are saved, we have a responsibility to learn what God has done for us and to take more steps of obedience in the Christian life.

Genuine salvation always results in transformation. When we receive Jesus as our personal Savior, He comes to live within us through the Holy Spirit. Our old way of life no longer fits our new identity, and the Spirit works within us to make us more like Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Has there been a particular point in your life when you recognized your sin and then asked Jesus to forgive you and become your Savior? If so, how has your life been transformed since then? Spiritual growth is one of the ways we can know that we are saved.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 32-34

 

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Our Daily Bread — Marvelously Unique

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 13–15; John 7:1–27

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 139:1-14

Human beings are not special—at least according to the London Zoo. In 2005, the zoo introduced a four-day exhibit: “Humans in Their Natural Environment.” The human “captives” were chosen through an online contest. To help visitors understand the humans, the zoo workers created a sign detailing their diet, habitat, and threats. According to the zoo’s spokesperson, the goal of the exhibit was to downplay the uniqueness of human beings. One participant in the exhibit seemed to agree. “When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds them that we’re not that special.”

What a stark contrast to what the Bible says about human beings: God “fearfully and wonderfully” made us in “his image” (Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26–27).

David began Psalm 139 by celebrating God’s intimate knowledge of him (vv. 1–6) and His all-encompassing presence (vv. 7–12). Like a master weaver, God not only formed the intricacies of David’s internal and external features (vv. 13–14), but He also made him a living soul, giving spiritual life and the ability to intimately relate to God. Meditating on God’s handiwork, David responded in awe, wonder, and praise (v. 14).

Human beings are special. God created us with marvelous uniqueness and the awesome ability to have an intimate relationship with Him. Like David, we can praise Him because we’re the workmanship of His loving hands.

By Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

What are some practical implications of knowing and believing you’re fearfully and wonderfully made? What are some negative consequences of not believing this?

God created human beings to be like Him.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Different Side of Good News

“For a difficult journey, minimal benefits, bitter cold, long months of darkness, constant fatigue and hardship. Most will quit. Honor and recognition in case of success.”

These were the words inscribed on a University of Washington men’s rowing crew advertisement I spotted recently while walking on the university campus. For those who know the history of the men’s crew at U of W, this advertisement will not come as a surprise. The team’s history is replete with times of dramatic struggle and monumental triumph. Perhaps most notable is the story of their quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics: an eight oar crew who were not expected to compete against even the East Coast American teams at the time showed astonishing strength to provide a winning story that would not be forgotten.

When I first came across the full-page advert for the men’s crew, I read it at least ten times over. It struck me that of all the ways in which the rowing department would choose to draw first year students to their sport, this was the way they chose to do it: not by enticing students with reward, but with the cost. Yes, there might be glory, the advert hinted, but that was not the compelling point. There would be no guarantee of glory to woo potential recruits. What was promised was pain and sacrifice; this was the U of W crew’s appeal.

This impassioned cry of the rowing crew made me think of certain aspects of the Christian faith that are not often mentioned, but still very real: times of felt darkness, a difficult journey throughout life, fatigue and hardship with the ever-present challenge to quit. Jesus Christ’s message to his friends and to those who would follow him shares similarities to the U of W men’s crew. At one point, Christ looked to his closest friends and told them that in the world they would experience trouble and suffering. Those are not exactly the cheery words one wants to hear from the leader of their movement. Sometimes, as I imaginatively read between the lines of the gospels, I wonder whether any of Christ’s friends offered to help him with public relations. Maybe Peter advised Jesus to change his tact. I can imagine Peter taking Jesus aside and saying, “Okay, Jesus. This isn’t a bad marketing angle, but it isn’t a good one either! How about you try something like, ‘Okay everyone, ahem, as I was saying earlier, in the world you will experience trouble and suffering. But once you come to me, everything will be okay. You won’t face any trouble or suffering.’”

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Joyce Meyer – Love Can Change People

 

All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back. — Proverbs 21:26

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I once read a story in Guideposts Magazine, a remarkable account of how love changed a person’s life. A Christian woman lived next door to an elderly lady who never came out of her house or even raised her window shades to let light into her home. This lady’s husband had died, and she herself had endured a stroke, which had left her lonely and bitter.

The Christian woman and her two young children began trying to reach out to the elderly recluse, but every time they did, she rejected their advances. They baked cookies every week for a long time and delivered them to their neighbor’s door. The first time, she opened the door just a crack, accepted the cookies, thanked them, and closed the door.

The neighbor’s response was not what the Christian woman had hoped for, but she lovingly persisted. And eventually love did work! The elderly lady accepted a casserole from her and said more than just a short thank-you. As the visits continued, the elderly woman gradually began to chat longer.

Finally, one day, the Christian woman’s children picked some flowers from their garden and delivered them to their neighbor. Eventually, they all became good friends. The elderly lady got her life back. She opened her blinds, her door, and her heart, and she began to live again—all because someone who loved God was determined to love her.

Many people in the world today are just like the elderly neighbor. They have had sadness or difficulties in their lives and have become bitter. They seem to reject love, yet love is what they need most. Be a person who gives of yourself and your resources to reach out and show love to someone who desperately needs it.

Prayer Starter: Father, let me be an instrument of Your love today. Show me someone I can bless, encourage and uplift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We can Have Real Peace

 

“So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in His promises, we can have real peace with Him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord had done for us” (Romans 5:1).

When Arthur DeMoss, one of my very best friends and one of our Lord’s choicest servants, went to be with the Lord, as the result of an unexpected heart attack, all of us were shocked. The word reached me in Austria, where I was meeting with our European staff. Immediately, I flew back to the United States for the memorial service.

As I participated in that service, I looked over the large audience, about half of whom had been introduced to Christ through the ministry of this man whom we had all come to honor.

In the crowd, I saw one face that stood out – a face that was most radiant of all. It was Art’s widow, Nancy. She was sitting in the front row with their seven children. Her radiant countenance was a demonstration to me of the supernatural joy and peace which God gives in such times of extreme grief.

Nancy and Art were the greatest of lovers and friends. They had been deeply in love since their courtship and were almost inseparable whether in the building of the business, in the rearing of their family or in their burden for evangelism and the souls of men.

Yet, in this time of Nancy’s greatest sorrow, the evidence that she was filled with the Spirit radiated from her countenance. She was experiencing the supernatural peace of God – love’s security, which is available to all of God’s children.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:2-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will claim by faith God’s peace – not only for me but also for family and friends in need of such peace – and seek to introduce others to the One who is the Prince of Peace.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Dynamic of Mercy

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”  Jesus says the merciful are shown mercy.  Forgiving others allows us to see how God has forgiven us.  The dynamic of giving grace is the key to understanding grace.  For it is when we forgive others, that we begin to feel what God feels.

Those who taste God’s grace but refuse to share it are tortured by anger; choked by bitterness; and consumed by revenge.  But for the one who tastes God’s grace and gives it to others, the reward is a blessed liberation. The prison door is thrown open.  And the prisoner set free is yourself.  Find the face of God who forgave you in the face of your enemy. Then set your enemy and yourself free.

Read more Applause of Heaven

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – What can Christians learn from ‘Game of Thrones’?

 

Game of Thrones ended Sunday night after eight seasons. It was broadcast in 207 countries and territories and was one of the most popular series on television.

Because of its pornographic sexual content and extreme violence, I did not watch the show. But I believe culture-changing Christians can learn something important from it.

Two months of testing for a wig

Game of Thrones filmed in ten countries. The series used 12,986 extras and two thousand crew members in Northern Ireland alone. It included three thousand pyrotechnic effects, fifty miles of fabric for costumes, and more than twenty-four thousand pounds of silicone for prosthetics. Wigs for one of the lead characters required two months of testing and seven prototypes.

Over its first seven seasons, the series received 174 award nominations and won sixty-three times.

The series is just one example of the fact that our culture’s moral compass is broken. A generation ago, a movie as violent and pornographic as Game of Thrones would have been X-rated.

Continue reading Denison Forum – What can Christians learn from ‘Game of Thrones’?