Charles Stanley – Left Here to Minister

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

Why do you think God has left you here on earth instead of immediately taking you to heaven the moment you were saved? Think of all the hardships and heartaches you’d have escaped. Imagine the joys you’d be experiencing with Christ in heaven. But then again, who would be here to tell others the gospel of salvation if all the believers were taken out of this world?

If you are living and breathing, then the heavenly Father has a purpose for you, a ministry to fulfill. Don’t think of ministry as something done only in a church building by a select group of people. Service to God is the responsibility of every believer. It’s a matter of doing the “good works, which God prepared beforehand” for each of us to accomplish (Eph. 2:10).

Although the way we serve may change over time, we are never called to retire and do nothing. Even a bed-bound saint can pray for others or offer encouraging words to visitors and caregivers. A believer’s goal should not simply be to attend church, listen to a sermon, and receive enough spiritual food to get through the coming week. The goal is to serve God with our whole being, reflecting the love of Jesus through who we are. Our worship of God and instruction from His Word is what edifies and equips us to serve one another and go into the world to share the gospel.

Your entire life is meant to be an act of service to God. If instead you are living for your own happiness and goals, you will eventually be disappointed. But when you walk in the good works God has prepared for you, you’ll have the satisfaction of doing exactly what you were created to do.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 40-42

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Bulldog and the Sprinkler

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 57–59; Romans 4

I pray that you . . . may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17, 19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 3:14–21

Most summer mornings, a delightful drama plays out in the park behind our house. It involves a sprinkler. And a bulldog. About 6:30 or so, the sprinklers come on. Shortly thereafter, Fifi the bulldog (our family’s name for her) arrives.

Fifi’s owner lets her off her leash. The bulldog sprints with all her might to the nearest sprinkler, attacking the stream of water as it douses her face. If Fifi could eat the sprinkler, I think she would. It’s a portrait of utter exuberance, of Fifi’s seemingly infinite desire to be drenched by the liquid she can never get enough of.

There are no bulldogs in the Bible, or sprinklers. Yet, in a way, Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 reminds me of Fifi. There, Paul prays that the Ephesian believers might be filled with God’s love and “have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” He prayed that we might be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv. 18–19).

Still today, we’re invited to experience a God whose infinite love exceeds anything we can comprehend, that we too might be drenched, saturated, and utterly satisfied by His goodness. We’re free to plunge with abandon, relish, and delight into a relationship with the One who alone can fill our hearts and lives with love, meaning, and purpose.

By Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

How does the experience of plunging into waves at a beach symbolize the immensity of God’s love for you? What barriers do you think potentially keep you from experiencing His love?

God, thank You for Your infinite and satisfying love. Please help us to know and experience the love You have for each one of us.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Good Illusions

 

Although John Stuart Mill’s essay “On Liberty” was published in 1859, it continues to influence our thinking today. This is particularly true of the idea that human beings are essentially good. “Don’t tell me how to live!” essentially sums up Mill’s view of liberty. Yet in his essay, Mill not only tells us how we should live, but who we are. Human beings are essentially good, he declares, and his view of liberty hinges upon this idealistic perspective of human nature.

Many theologians and philosophers of Mill’s era were skeptical of the individual’s passions and one’s willingness to choose what is right over what is pleasurable. As historian Gertrude Himmelfarb observed, “[Mill] took for granted that those virtues that had already been acquired by means of religion, tradition, law, and all the other resources of civilization would continue to be valued and exercised.”

Today these structures of tradition and authority no longer hold sway in our culture, whereas the idea of the essential goodness of humanity has taken on a life of its own and is now embedded in our modern psyche. Moreover, the assumption held in Mill’s day—that truth is knowable and should order our lives—is no longer believed by many, who instead would agree with the words of Nietzsche: “Truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions; worn-out metaphors which have become powerless to affect the senses.”

In what has been a difficult teaching for every era, the Scriptures witness to the reality of sin and our need for God. Likewise, the experience of our world undeniably witnesses to the reality of darkness in our hearts. If this experience has not inspired a change in philosophy, perhaps it is because the illusion of human goodness brings us greater comfort. Yet, does it really? Do we not find it incomprehensible how one could abuse or torture a child? And do we really believe that given time and progress we will learn to love our neighbor as ourselves? Surely the horrors of the present century alone have proven the idea of the essential goodness of human beings to be false.

Jesus himself said in Mark 10, “No one is good except God alone.” But just before declaring this, Jesus showed us how we may know the power to love and to do good—by coming to him in humility, as children aware of their need for a Savior. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” he said, “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth: anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

 

Stuart McAllister is global support specialist at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – A Happy Heart Is Good Medicine

 

A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

The more I ponder it, the more amazed I am that I can immediately increase or decrease my joy and the joy of others by simply choosing to say good things.

Joy is vital! Nehemiah 8:10 tells us joy is our strength. No wonder the devil works overtime trying to do anything he can to diminish our joy. Don’t sit by and let it happen to you. Fight the good fight with faith-filled words, releasing joy into the very atmosphere you are in.

Jesus came to bring good news and glad tidings of great joy, to overcome evil with good. He wants you to be as committed as He is to finding and magnifying the good in everything. Do yourself a favor and say something good!

Prayer Starter: Father, Help me to focus on the good things in life today and choose to live with joy. Let me also use my words to be a source of joy to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Does Such Wonders

 

“I will cry to the God of heaven who does such wonders for me” (Psalm 57:2).

I cannot begin to count the times, even during just one 24-hour day, that I lift my heart in praise, worship and adoration and thanksgiving to God in heaven. I begin the day by acknowledging His lordship of my life and inviting Him to have complete control of my thoughts, my attitudes, my actions, my motives, my desires, my words; to walk around in my body, think with my mind, love with my heart, speak with my lips and continue through me to seek and save the lost and minister to those in need. Throughout the day I bring before Him the personal needs of my family. I pray for the extended family of Campus Crusade for Christ and staff and their families and for all those who support this ministry through their prayers and finances. I pray for business and professional people, that God will bless their finances as well as their lives so that they can continue to help support this and other ministries for His kingdom.

As I look through the mail, I breathe a prayer to God for some staff member, friend, associate, or supporter who is hurting, needing encouragement, strength and peace. At all of my many daily conferences, I will begin and close with a brief word of prayer claiming the promise of God-given wisdom for the matters we shall be discussing, for supernatural discernment that will enable me to see through all the intricacies of the problems presented. When the phone rings, I breathe a silent prayer and often a vocal one at the appropriate time with that person on the other end of the line who is in distress, whether from family problems or work-related difficulties.

In between, I pray alone and with others for the hundreds of different people, events and circumstances that involve the worldwide ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ and the ministry of His Body throughout the world.

Bible Reading: Psalm 57:1-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Recognizing that prayer is as vital to my spiritual life as air is to my physical being, I will pray without ceasing and in all things give thanks to our God in heaven who does such wonders for me.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God Made One Version of You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa.  Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony.  And God made one version of you!  God custom-designed you for a one-of-a-kind assignment—“to each according to each one’s unique ability” (Matthew 25:15).

“The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others” (1 Corinthians 12:7).  Did the apostle Paul say, “The Spirit has given some of us. . .”? Or a few of us. . .?”  No!  “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.”

You don’t have to do everything!  You’re not God’s solution to society, you are a solution in society.  Don’t worry about the skills you don’t have.  Don’t covet the strength others do have. Just extract your uniqueness—to God’s glory!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Ancient Church of the Apostles reportedly discovered: Three reasons you should care

Archaeologists working in what they believe to have been the biblical city of Bethsaida claim to have recently found the Church of the Apostles, a fifth-century church supposedly built over the home of the disciples Peter and Andrew.

While it will likely take at least a year to be certain, the mosaic tiles found in the location “only appear in churches,” according to Professor R. Steven Notley, who helped lead the project.

In 725 AD, the Bavarian bishop Willibald toured the Holy Land and wrote of seeing the church of Peter and Andrew, but, until recently, there had been little evidence to corroborate the report. That no other churches have been found in the region supports the notion that the latest discovery is authentic.

However, as Notley said, “It would be normal to find an inscription in a church of the Byzantine period, describing in whose memory it was built.” Until such an inscription is unearthed, it will be difficult to verify the claim with any real certainty.

Given the significance of Peter and Andrew—and if the location can be verified—the Church of the Apostles is likely to become among the most popular historical sites in the region, and particularly for members of the Roman Catholic Church since they consider Peter to be the first pope.

Does the Church of the Apostles matter today?

As exciting as it would be to find verifiable evidence of such an ancient church, does anything about this story take it from being merely interesting to being personally relevant?

After all, we don’t need the Church of the Apostles to exist to believe that Peter and Andrew did. And, even if the church is proven to have been built over what fifth-century Christians believed was their home, how can we know they were correct?

So, what relevance can this story have beyond possibly piquing our interest for a few minutes or offering a welcome distraction from the other news of the day?

Ultimately, there are three reasons I believe this discovery is relevant to our lives and our mission to help the lost find the Lord.

First, this discovery reminds us that we serve a God who has been faithfully worshiped by his people for thousands of years.

In our culture, it can be easy at times to feel isolated in our faith or to question its legitimacy in light of current social trends and accusations of irrelevance (or worse). While the truth is not based on how many people have done something or for how long, it’s reassuring to know that, when we worship, we also join a legacy of believers that extends so far into our collective past.

The same God who was worthy of worship sixteen hundred years ago is still worthy of our worship today.

Second, the Church of the Apostles reminds us that persecution will come, but our faith is built on something that goes far beyond whatever challenges it might face.

Around ninety years before Bishop Willibald would have passed by the church, this region of the Holy Land fell to the Muslims as they expanded north. While the building was apparently left standing, any who worshiped in it did so under very different conditions from when it was founded.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Ancient Church of the Apostles reportedly discovered: Three reasons you should care