Charles Stanley – God’s Loving Outreach

 

John 4:1-42

The story of the Lord’s encounter with a Samaritan woman is a wonderful example of His loving response to those who hurt. Jesus is always reaching out in love, even when we do not recognize His extended hand.

Although this meeting may have appeared accidental, it was really a providential appointment with the Messiah. As the woman reached the well, Jesus initiated conversation by asking for a drink of water. His direct approach surprised her and opened the door for a dialogue that would change her life forever.

Throughout the exchange, Jesus’ goal was to help the woman recognize her greatest need so He could supply the only gift that would meet it: salvation and the forgiveness of her sins. She had spent her life trying to find love and acceptance in all the wrong places. The Lord offered her the living water of the Holy Spirit—the one thing that would quench her spiritual and emotional thirst.

Like the Samaritan woman, we can at times be so intent on getting our immediate needs met that we fail to see God’s hand reaching out to us in love, offering what will truly satisfy. Only Christ can eternally fill our empty souls and provide for our essential emotional needs now.

This world is filled with “wells” that promise to provide love, acceptance, and self-worth but never fully satisfy. When your soul is empty and the well runs dry, look for Jesus. He has a divine appointment scheduled with you, and He will quench your thirst with His Spirit—if you let Him.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 36-39

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Who We Are

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 54–56; Romans 3

This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name.

Acts 9:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Acts 9:13–16

I’ll never forget the time I took my future wife to meet my family. With a twinkle in their eyes, my two elder siblings asked her, “What exactly do you see in this guy?” She smiled and assured them that by God’s grace I had grown to be the man she loved.

I loved that clever reply because it also reflects how, in Christ, the Lord sees more than our past. In Acts 9, He directed Ananias to heal Saul, a known persecutor of the church whom God had blinded. Ananias was incredulous at receiving this mission, stating that Saul had been rounding up believers in Jesus for persecution and even execution. God told Ananias not to focus on who Saul had been but on who he had become: an evangelist who would bring the good news to all the known world, including to the gentiles (those who weren’t Jews) and to kings (v. 15). Ananias saw Saul the Pharisee and persecutor, but God saw Paul the apostle and evangelist.

We can sometimes view ourselves only as we have been—with all of our failures and shortcomings. But God sees us as new creations, not who we were but who we are in Jesus and who we’re becoming through the power of the Holy Spirit. O God, teach us to view ourselves and others in this way!

By Peter Chin

Reflect & Pray

How can you begin to better view yourself and others in light of who you are in Christ today? How does it encourage you to know God isn’t through growing and refining you?

Heavenly Father, help me to find my full identity in You. Allow me to humbly see others through Your eyes of grace!

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Seeking Mystery

 

A prayer often spoken in the halls of RZIM is one written at the hand of C.S. Lewis—words no doubt uttered throughout his own lifetime. The poem is titled, “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer.”

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
at which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.(1)

Few prayers pause to ask the Hearer to deliver us from the very words we choose to speak. Yet not all graven images are of stone and gold. Apologist or other, some of our idols can turn out to be quite thoughtful in nature.

In a letter to a younger colleague, poet and professor Stanley Wiersma once advised, “When you are too sure about God and faith, you are sure of something other than God: of dogma, of the church, of a particular interpretation of the Bible. But God cannot be pigeonholed. We must press toward certainty, but be suspicious when it comes too glibly.”

We are given minds and imaginations that can freely tread into heavenly matters, and yet we are clearly offered the limitations of this freedom as a revelation as well. “Show me your glory,” Moses implored of God. “Show us the Father,” the disciples plead with Jesus. The desire to see God is invariably set upon our hearts, even as we are reminded with great promise that we cannot even fathom what God has done from beginning to end anymore than we can fathom God in the first place. “We have heard the fact,” says Saint Augustine, “now, let us seek the mystery.”

 

In this, I love that there are things we can be surprised by again and again with God, even as the master of the house repeatedly seems to awaken us on the threshold of a house and a homemaker we have seriously underestimated. It is forever shocking for me to be reminded that the famous words of Jesus, for instance, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” were not uttered at angry religious leaders or directed at the lost and downtrodden. To me it always seems a statement that draws with quickened stroke a line in the sand, separating the sheep from the goats, providing infinite comfort to the lost, while disturbing those who think of themselves found. And certainly, Christ’s words have a way of doing just that. But this eminent line was spoken that day to those who knew him best. To his disciples, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and life.” And they did not understand.

Days later, as the disciples watched the very life of Jesus poured out before them like a sheep led to slaughter, perhaps they saw again those words on his lips and wondered all over again how they could make sense of an absent messiah. Throughout their ministries it is evident that their vision of the vastness of God grew exponentially as they began to put the pieces together, seeing that Jesus intended those words more remarkably than they ever could have imagined.

I believe that God continues to move us to those places where we discover again one who is fearfully alive and reigning in a kingdom we grossly underestimate, one who can fill even our holiest moments with the mere hem of his robe, one who repeatedly shows us that even our best thoughts of Father, Son, and Spirit are but coins merely reflecting the real thing. We must repeatedly recall, as Job recalled in dust in ashes: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted… Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know… My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”(2)

“Show us the Father” is a hope our hearts were meant to utter—even as we learn to marvel at the mystery of the request. Far more significantly, it is a longing God has promised can be answered: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.(3)

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) C.S. Lewis, Poems (New York: Harcourt, 1992), 131.
(2) Job 42:2-5.
(3) Isaiah 40:5.

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Has Your Get-Up-and-Go Got Up and Gone?

 

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. — Romans 12:11

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I have times when I get tired of doing what I am doing. We all do. No matter what your position is in life, there will be days when you will not feel like doing it. You might even go through a longer season in which you feel listless and uninterested in almost everything.

There may be underlying reasons that you will need to prayerfully search out, but often we just need to stir ourselves up and get going again. We need to do it purposely instead of waiting for a feeling to show up and motivate us to action again.

Gratitude helps me do that. When I recount all of my blessings, I am amazed at the goodness of God in my life. It makes me thankful, and that always stirs me up and makes life look brighter. Having great expectations also energizes and motivates me.

We don’t have to wait and see if something good happens in our lives; we can aggressively expect something good to happen. David indicated that if he failed to believe he would see the Lord’s goodness, it would affect him in a detrimental way. He said, [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness… (Psalm 27:13 AMPC).

The third thing that energizes me is getting my mind off how I feel and on something I can do to be a blessing to someone else. When I do, it works every time. Before long, I find myself enthusiastic about life and excited to resume my service to the Lord.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to live life to the fullest. I want to live with passion, zeal, and appreciation for every opportunity that You give me. Help me approach this day with enthusiasm and do everything as unto You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – It All Belongs to Him

 

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10, KJV).

Gently chiding a Christian worker for praying that God might give him a second-hand car to use in his service for the Lord, Dr. A.W. Tozer reminded the man:

“God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the Cadillacs, too. Why not ask Him for the best?”

That same principle might apply to many areas of our lives today. If we truly believe that “according to your faith be it unto you,” then it is imperative that we trust God for greater things than normally we might.

Motive, of course, is supremely important in our asking from God. If the thing asked is clearly for God’s glory, to be used in His service, the motivation is good. If pride or any other motive plays a part in the decision, then we do well to think twice before asking great things from God.

What man owns, we do well to remember, we own under God. And God has never given to man the absolute proprietorship in any thing. Nor does He invade our rights when He comes and claims what we possess, or when He in any way removes what is most valuable to us.

God owns all things – let’s leave to Him the right to do whatever He wishes with the things He owns.

Bible Reading: Psalm 50:7-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Since my receiving is “according to my faith,” I will with proper motive for His glory believe God in a large manner this day – for whatever needs may arise.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Church, A Place of Healing

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Friends, I urge you to find a church congregation that believes in confession. Avoid a fellowship of perfect people—you probably won’t fit in. Seek one where members confess their sins and show humility, where the price of admission is simply an admission of guilt.  Healing happens in a church like this.

Jesus said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23).  1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we say we have no sin, we’re fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what’s right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”

Scripture doesn’t say he might, could, would, or has been known to do so.  He said, he WILL cleanse us!  Oh, the sweet certainty of his words.

Read more GRACE

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Denison Forum – Joshua Harris, author and former pastor, renounces Christianity: Should public falls affect your faith?

Joshua Harris became an internationally prominent Christian when he published his first book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, at the age of twenty-three. The 1997 guide to dating focused on maintaining sexual purity before marriage by guarding against the kinds of physical contact and situations that could lead young people to give in to their lust and sin.

I didn’t read the book when it was released. But, as someone who graduated high school in 2004, I remember how the principles he espoused seemed to impact so many around me.

Harris went on to author several more books and pastor Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, from 2004 until resigning in 2015 to pursue a graduate degree at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Around the time he left his position as pastor, he publicly apologized for what he’d come to see as errors in his writings. He still maintained that there were certain aspects of those works with which he agreed. He even expressed gratefulness for the positive impact his words had had on some.

However, he came to see the work as a whole as being too restrictive and fostering a fear-based understanding of relationships.

But Harris is in the news again today for a different reason.

‘I am not a Christian.’

After recently announcing his divorce from his wife of twenty years, Harris stated this week that he has left his faith as well. As part of a long post on Instagram detailing the decision, Harris explained, “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

He went on to describe the many regrets he’s had from his time as a Christian leader before speaking specifically to the LGBTQ+ community, stating, “I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.”

The Instagram post concluded with a note thanking his Christian friends for their prayers but warning that “I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful.”

The weight of public faith

We do not have the space today to discuss the extent to which a person can truly leave the faith (for more on that topic, please see Dr. Denison’s article, “Is it possible for me to lose my salvation?”) However, Harris’ example brings up another important issue with which many believers struggle today.

Joshua Harris is by no means the first well-known Christian to fall away from the faith that helped make him famous. If the Lord tarries, he likely won’t be the last.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Joshua Harris, author and former pastor, renounces Christianity: Should public falls affect your faith?

Charles Stanley – Essential Truths of the Faith

 

Ephesians 4:11-16

It’s fairly easy to coast through the Christian life without thinking too deeply about the essentials of our faith. Every child of God knows the basics of the gospel, since they are necessary for salvation. But once we are saved, we need to grow in our understanding of the doctrines that are foundational for Christianity.

We must believe that the Bible is true. Scripture is the heavenly Father’s self-revelation about His nature, plan of salvation, and dealings with mankind. It’s the final authority on life, faith, salvation, and conduct (2 Peter 1:3), and we can trust that it’s without error because God inspired its writers and protected its transmission throughout history (2 Timothy 3:16).

There is only one God who expresses Himself in three persons—Father, Son, and Spirit. The concept of the Trinity is supported in numerous Scriptures, including Jesus’ baptism when all three were present and the Great Commission in which we are told to make disciples and baptize them in one name—that of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16-17; Matt. 28:19).

The Lord is the Creator of all things. As His creatures, we exist for Him and through Him, and He has authority and power over us (1 Corinthians 8:6). God is not simply a greater version of us; He is in a totally different category because He is self-existent and the source of life. We, on the other hand, are dependent upon Him for our next breath.

These three essentials keep us grounded in the truth. If we doubt them, we will find ourselves deceived by other doctrines (Eph. 4:14).

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 31-35

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Ready for Restoration

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 51–53; Romans 2

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?

Psalm 85:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 85

While stationed in Germany in the army I purchased a brand-new 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. The car was a beauty! The dark green exterior complemented the brown leatherette interior. But as the years took their toll, stuff began to happen, including an accident that ruined the running board and destroyed one of the doors. With more imagination, I could have thought, “My classic car was a perfect candidate for restoration!” And with more money, I could have pulled it off. But that didn’t happen.

Thankfully the God of perfect vision and unlimited resources doesn’t give up so easily on battered and broken people. Psalm 85 describes people who were perfect candidates for restoration and the God who is able to restore. The setting is likely after the Israelites had returned from seventy years of exile (their punishment for rebellion against God). Looking back, they were able to see His favor—including His forgiveness (vv. 1–3). They were motivated to ask God for His help (vv. 4–7) and to expect good things from Him (vv. 8–13).

Who among us doesn’t occasionally feel battered, bruised, broken? And sometimes it’s because of something we’ve done to ourselves. But because the Lord is the God of restoration and forgiveness, those who humbly come to Him are never without hope. With open arms He welcomes those who turn to Him; and those who do, find safety in His arms.

By Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

Are there signs in your life that restoration is in order? What’s your response to the God of restoration?

Lord, help me not to ignore the signs that restoration is needed in my life.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Nothing Without Love

 

Oft quoted at weddings, preeminent celebrations of romantic love, a poem is read extolling the virtue of love:

Love is patient and kind
Love is not jealous or boastful…
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never ends.

What many may not realize is that this is a poem from the pen of the apostle Paul. And while this poem is used to paint a picture of young love at weddings, its intent far transcends the romance of the occasion, and a fairly limited understanding of this virtue.

Romantic love was not in the apostle’s mind when he penned this verse. Instead, tremendous conflict in the fledgling Corinthian church caused Paul great grief. There were dissensions and quarrels over all kinds of issues in this community; quarrels over leadership and allegiance, over moral standards, over marriage and singleness, over theology, and quarrels so extreme that lawsuits were being filed!(1)

So after reminding the Corinthian followers of Jesus that they represented his body—a body with many members and unique gifts and functions—Paul lifts up love as the height of what it means to be a mature human being:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing….Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away….but now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (13:1-3, 8, 13).

Often, as I survey various communities in our world today, I see the same kind of division and derision, as was present in the Corinthian community. More often than not, one encounters a war of information, argumentation based on this book or that claim, this person’s authority or that person’s expertise. Quick to criticize and lambaste, noisy gongs and clanging cymbals abound; but the love that never fails is a rare and fleeting occurrence. How does one make sense of all this, particularly in light of Paul’s proclamation that without love we are nothing?

Perhaps part of the reason why there is so little love is that there is a fear that to love is somehow to compromise. Many feel the strong need to disassociate with the way love is commonly defined; as unthinking acceptance, an anything goes, an “I’m okay you’re okay” easy love as bland and undefined as gelatin. Surely, the Apostle Paul’s understanding goes far beyond this flabby view of love. After all, he spends the majority of his first letter to the Corinthians exhorting their bad behavior by virtue of their lack of love.

Yet, I sometimes worry that a reticence to extend love to others without condition belies a forgetfulness about the conditions of our acceptance by God. Paul writes to the Romans, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8). If God loved us while we were yet sinners, why do we find it so hard to love others?

In a world that largely perceives Christians to be in-fighters, hypocritical, argumentative, and judgmental naysayers, would it not demonstrate maturity to reexamine our fear of what it might look like if we tried to take Paul’s words about love to heart?

Would it or could it look like creating seminaries in the prisons, as has been done at Louisiana’s maximum security prison at Angola? Would it or could it look like working with different Christian fellowships towards a vital social goal despite denominational differences or theological disagreements? Would it or could it look like proactive movement to engage the culture rather than reactive retreat? Would it, or should it look like growing into mature human beings? Paul continues,

When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

In Jesus, the full stature and maturity of humanity is on display. He taught that love was the summary of all that had gone before, and fulfillment of the entire law and the message of the prophets—love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If the greatest of the virtues is love, as affirmed by Jesus and the apostle Paul, can all who seek to follow envision becoming a community that seeks to make love their chief responsibility and goal?(2) Now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

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

 

(1) See 1 Corinthians 1:10-14; 3:1-10; 4:14-21; 5:1-13; 6:1-11; 7; 8:1-4 as examples.
(2) Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Love Does Something

 

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share — 1 Timothy 6:18

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

Our ministry has taken various people on mission trips to minister to desperately needy people, but they don’t all respond the same way. Everyone feels compassion, but some individuals become quite determined to find ways to make a difference.

Indifference makes an excuse, but love finds a way. Everyone can do something!

I remember a woman who decided she had to help in some way. For a while she couldn’t figure out what to do because she had no extra money to contribute and she couldn’t go live on the mission field.

But as she continued to pray about the situation, God encouraged her to look at what she had, not at what she did not have. She realized she was very good at baking cakes, pies and cookies.

So, she asked her pastor if she could bake during the week, and offer her baked goods for sale on Sundays after church as long as the money went to missions. This became a way for her and other church members to be involved in missions, and it kept her active doing something to help someone else.

Another woman is a massage therapist, and she organized a special spa day and donated all the proceeds to help poor people. She raised one-thousand dollars for missions and also testified that the day of giving was life changing for her, those who worked with her, and those who attended.

We all need to be loved, but I believe our personal joy is strongly connected to loving others. Something beautiful happens in our hearts when we give.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to not only feel compassion, but to find creative ways to express my love for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Help for Hard Times

 

“He cares for them when times are hard; even in famine, they will have enough” (Psalm 37:19).

I recall that, in the early 1930’s during the time of the great depression in America, many people experienced hard times. It was not always easy to fully appreciate the fact I know now to be true: God always cares for His children.

“When times are hard” can refer not only to the material, but also to the physical and the spiritual. And during any of these times – whether in poverty, poor health or spiritual doldrums – our great God always cares for us.

In Bible times, God often proved the truth of the assertion that He cares for His people in periods of famine. And no doubt multitudes of sufferers around the world today would attest to that fact, in spite of their suffering.

When physical suffering is involved, it is not always easy to see the hand of God. But one sure way to increase faith is to exercise the sacrifice of praise – praise to our wonderful God for the positive fact that “all things do work together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose.”

When spiritual poverty is concerned, we need only retreat to that time and place in our lives where we wandered away from God, whatever degree of wandering that involves, whether large or small. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 37:16-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At all times of difficulty in my life – spiritual, material, physical – I will look for God’s hand of blessing in the joyful assurance that He cares for me.

 

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Max Lucado – Need a Spiritual MRI?

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

What would an X-ray—an MRI—of your soul reveal?  Regrets over teenage relationships? Remorse over a poor choice?  You become moody, cranky…angry or irritable.  That’s understandable if you have shame lodged in your soul.

Interested in an extraction?  Confess!  Request a spiritual  MRI.  Psalm 139: 23-24 is just that:

“Search me, O God and know my heart;

try me, and know my anxieties;

see if there’s any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.”

We need a grace-based confession.  God, I’ve done what You say is wrong.  Would you wash away my guilt and make me clean again?  No chant, no candle needed.  Just a prayer of honest confession.  Try it.

Read more GRACE

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Denison Forum – The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting: Moving forward by not moving on

What more is there to say?

The news is once again headlined by reports of a mass shooting, complete with essentially the same statements of remorse, promises of prayer, and debates about gun laws we’ve heard countless times before.

As of this writing, details continue to emerge regarding the latest attack, this time at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. Three were killed, including a six-year-old boy and a thirteen-year-old girl, while another twelve were injured. Police also shot and killed the suspected shooter.

The gunman, who has since been identified but will remain unnamed in this article, bypassed security by entering the festival grounds via a nearby creek and then cutting a hole in the surrounding fence.

He started shooting around 5:41 on Sunday evening, and, by the grace of God and the accuracy of festival security, stopped shooting less than a minute later.

Yet that was all the time it took to forever alter the lives of countless individuals.

So, where do we go from here?

Keep the focus on the people rather than the issues

We could spend this time debating our nation’s gun laws and what guidance we can find in Scripture. The former has been at the crux of most comments coming from those in the political sphere. And, while the latter is always helpful, we’ve been there before.

We could look at the mental health aspects of the discussion. We could examine the degree to which the most sustainable solutions will focus on who is allowed to wield guns rather than how the guns are acquired. But that too seems like a topic better saved for another day.

Instead, I think it’s best for us to just spend some time owning the fact that four people are dead and countless others injured, physically and emotionally, before we hurry off to try and fix it.

The time for discussion about those other issues will come, but that discussion will be better served if we’ve actually grappled with the gravity of the situation rather than sought to escape it before it sinks in.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting: Moving forward by not moving on

Charles Stanley – Making Wise Decisions

 

Galatians 6:7-10

Much of our life can be summed up by the decisions we’ve made right until the present. This is why it’s so important to learn to make wise choices that lead to the life God wants for us. And the foundation for doing so is a firm conviction regarding the truth of God’s Word, which will ground us in every area—relationships, finances, work, church, and the use of our time.

The unchanging principle of sowing and reaping is one that should guide every decision we make, because a harvest will eventually result from the action we take. Paul contrasted two different ways Christians can sow—either to the Spirit or to the flesh.

There is a battle raging within us between the desires of the Holy Spirit, who has come to live within us, and the desires of our flesh—those sin patterns and self-serving tendencies remaining in us even after salvation (Gal. 5:17). Our goal should be to put our sinful, selfish desires to death so that we can follow the Spirit as He directs us according to the Scriptures. Therefore, the better we know and understand God’s Word, the more we will be able to discern the Spirit’s leading.

To make this practical, remember that every time you rehearse a wrong done to you, complain with regard to your situation, gossip about a friend, or indulge an addictive desire, you are sowing to the flesh and will reap more of the same later. But if you let the Spirit lead and empower you, you’ll be able to forgive others, be content in every situation, and acquire holy desires and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 28-30

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — All for Nothing

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 49–50; Romans 1

Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

Proverbs 7:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 7:10–27

Heroin addiction is poignantly tragic. Users build tolerance, so larger hits are required for the same high. Soon the dosage they seek is more than enough to kill them. When addicts hear someone has died from an exceptionally strong batch, their first thought may not be fear but “Where can I get that?”

  1. S. Lewis warned of this downward spiral in Screwtape Letters,his imaginative look at a demon’s explanation of the art of temptation. Start with some pleasure—if possible one of God’s good pleasures—and offer it in a way God has forbidden. Once the person bites, give less of it while enticing him to want more. Provide “an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure,” until finally we “get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return.”

Proverbs 7 illustrates this devastating cycle with the temptation of sexual sin. Sex is God’s good gift, but when we seek its enjoyment outside of marriage we’re “like an ox going to the slaughter” (v. 22). People stronger than us have destroyed themselves by pursuing highs that are harmful, so “pay attention” and “do not let your heart turn to [wrongful] ways” (vv. 24–25). Sin can be alluring and addicting, but it always ends in death (v. 27). By avoiding—in God’s strength—the temptation to sin, we can find true joy and fulfillment in Him.

By Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When and where do you face temptations? How can you seek God’s wisdom and help in turning from them? 

Holy Spirit, I know that I am powerless in myself to resist temptation. I need You. Help me. For more on overcoming addiction, see When We Just Can’t Stopat discoveryseries.org/cb961.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Body of Hope

Dr. Paul Brand was an orthopedic surgeon who chose his patients among the untouchable. With his wife, who was also a physician, he spent a lifetime working with the marred and useless limbs of leprosy victims. In fact, he transformed the way in which medicine approached the painful and often exiled world of the leper. Whereas the disfigurements of leprosy were once treated as irreversible consequences of the disease, Dr. Brand brought new hope to sufferers of leprosy by utilizing the body’s capacity to heal. “I have come to realize that every patient of mine, every newborn baby, in every cell of its body, has a basic knowledge of how to survive and how to heal that exceeds anything that I shall ever know,” wrote Brand. “That knowledge is the gift of God, who has made our bodies more perfectly than we could ever have devised.”(1)

Philip Yancey was a young journalist when he first met this dignified British surgeon in an interview. He recalls a teary-eyed Brand speaking of his patients, describing their disease as if first hand: their unremitting suffering, experimental surgeries, societal rejection. Many memorable conversations later, Yancey would recall the healing presence this physician was to his own crippled and weary belief in God. To Yancey, Brand represented faith and hope in body, amidst nothing less than suffering and death and loss. His belief in Christ caused him to outwardly live in a very particular way. He worked to restore the image of humanity and the image of God in lives marred by disease, and so helped restore the face of God in the doubt-ridden world of a young author. As Yancey later would write of their meeting, “You need only meet one saint to believe, to silence the noisy arguments of the world.”(2)

Brand was for Yancey a physical reminder that Christianity is no mere system or organization, preference or thought process, but a way of life with one concerned as much with broken bodies as marred souls. In a 1990 lecture titled The Wisdom of the Body, Dr. Paul Brand said, “I pray that when my time comes I may not grumble that my body has worn out too soon, but hold on to gratitude that I have been so long at the helm of the most wonderful creation the world has ever known, and look forward to meeting its designer face to face.”(3) In a body like ours, God silences the arguments of a noisy world. Jesus approaches humanity as one of us, coming to make us well entirely—in body, mind, soul, senses.

Of the ten lepers Jesus healed on his way to Jerusalem, there was only one who stopped to recognize the significance of the man behind the miracle. For this one, it was not simply a life-changing moment of being healed of leprosy; it was a life-changing invitation into a kingdom and a community, into life as a new creation. Falling on his face at Jesus’s human feet, he saw the Son of God who made him well. And Jesus said to him: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”(4)

 

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In the Likeness of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 16.
(2) Philip Yancey, “The Leprosy Doctor,” Christianity Today (November 2003), 112.
(3) Paul Brand, “The Wisdom of the Body,” Chicago Sunday Evening Club, Program 3428, April 28, 1990.
(4) Luke 17:11-18.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Hears and Answers

 

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.— Isaiah 30:19

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

Our friendship not only benefits us, it also benefits those around us. When people come to us with needs or concerns, we may be able to offer some help, or we may not be able to meet their needs at all.

Even if we do not have what people really need, God does. When we are friends with God, we can say to people, “I don’t have what you need, but I know Someone who does. I’ll ask my friend! I will intercede before God for you.”

We know that God has the power to intervene in people’s circumstances, to help their children stop using drugs, to bring financial breakthroughs, to work medical miracles or to reconcile marriages.

The more intimately we know God, the more confident we are in His willingness and ability to help people. When they come to us, we can go to Him and know He will come through for them.

We can actually ask God to do us a favor and help someone we love even when we know that they don’t deserve it. We can pray with compassion out of a heart of love—and God hears and answers.

God loves you, and He loves the sound of your voice coming to Him in prayer and fellowship. Go to Him often not only for your needs, but also for the needs of others.

Prayer Starter: O, Lord, thank You for always hearing my cries for help. Today, I ask for Your supernatural help and intervention for the needs in my life. I also lift up the needs of my friends and family and pray for peace, provision, healing, wisdom and direction. Thank You for Your amazing love and for answering our cries for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Everything I Need

 

“Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!” (Psalm 23:1).

A minister telephoned his sermon topic to his local newspaper one day.

“The Lord is My Shepherd,” he said.

“Is that all?” he was asked.

“That’s enough,” the pastor replied.

The weekend church page carried his sermon topic as: “The Lord is My Shepherd – That’s Enough.”

Thoroughly satisfied with the meaning of the expanded title, he used it as his subject on Sunday morning – to the delight and great benefit of the congregation.

Surely the truth of this familiar verse, when properly assessed, should delight and benefit each one of us. Who but our wonderful Lord could serve as such a faithful shepherd? And what better description is there of His loving care for us than that which is implied in the word shepherd?

With Him as our Shepherd, what else could we possibly need? He has promised to be our daily provision, our healer, our all in all. Truly nothing happens to the genuine believer without the knowledge and permissive will of our heavenly Father.

Bible Reading: Psalm 23:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to see You today as my Shepherd – gracious caretaker and friend, provider of everything I could ever possibly need.”

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Freedom in Confession

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

 

Confession!  It’s a word that conjures up many images—some not so positive!  Confession isn’t telling God what he doesn’t know.  That’s impossible.  It’s not pointing fingers at others without pointing any at me.  That may feel good, but it doesn’t promote healing.

Confession is a radical reliance on grace— a trust in God’s goodness.  The truth is, confessors find freedom that deniers of sin do not!  Scripture says “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right.  He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”

Tell God what you did.  Again, it’s not that he doesn’t already know, but the two of you need to agree! Then let the pure water of his grace flow over your mistakes!

Read more GRACE

 

 

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