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

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

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!

 

 

http://www.odb.org

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.

 

 

http://www.rzim.org/

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

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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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?