Charles Stanley – Faithful Servants

 

Colossians 4:7-17

Every word of Scripture is profitable for us, and that includes today’s passage—the final greetings and instructions at the close of Colossians. Although reading a list of names may not seem edifying at first, doing so provides a lesson on living with a committed Christian community. The people Paul mentions are all examples of faithful servants of God.

For instance, Tychicus (vv. 7-8) brought Paul’s letter from Rome to Colossae since the apostle was in prison. The distance is about 900 miles as the crow flies, but it was much farther for Tychicus, who had to sail around Italy and across the Mediterranean Sea before traveling through Asia Minor on foot. Yet he faithfully endured the hardship in order to bring Paul’s letter to the Colossians—and to us, since the epistle is now part of the New Testament.

Onesimus (v. 9) exemplifies a life transformed by Christ—this runaway slave was a valuable servant not only to his former master but also to Paul (Philem. 1:10-17). Then Epaphras (Col. 4:12-13) was a faithful intercessor for the church in Colossae, and Luke was a committed companion to Paul during the apostle’s travels and imprisonment. And Nympha is acknowledged for hospitality in opening her home as a meeting place for the church.

In the New Testament, we’re instructed to be faithful stewards, live transformed lives, pray for one another, serve humbly, and practice hospitality so Jesus’ love is apparent to those who don’t know Him. As the people in today’s passage show, your actions can reflect Christ even more than words do.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 43-45

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — From Trash to Treasure

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 60–62; Romans 5

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 4:5–7

The trash man’s house sits atop a steep street in a poor Bogota neighborhood. Not one thing about it looks special. Yet the unassuming abode in Colombia’s capital is home to a free library of 25,000 books—discarded literature that Jose Alberto Gutierrez collected to share with poor children in his community.

Local kids crowd into the house during weekend “library hours.” Prowling through every room, each packed with books, the children recognize the humble home as more than Señor Jose’s house—it’s a priceless treasury.

The same is true for every follower of Christ. We’re made of humble clay—marred by cracks and easily broken. But we’re entrusted by God as a home for His empowering Spirit, who enables us to carry the good news of Christ into a hurting, broken world. It’s a big job for ordinary, fragile people.

“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7), the apostle Paul told his congregation in the ancient city of Corinth. They were a cross section of people from across this region, so many might have been tempted to “go around preaching about [them]selves,” Paul said (v. 5 nlt).

Instead, Paul said, tell others about the priceless One living inside of us. It’s Him and His all-surpassing power that turns our ordinary lives into a priceless treasury.

By Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What does it mean to you that you have a treasure, the Holy Spirit, inside you? How is it comforting to know that He enables us to share the good news?

Jesus, fill up my ordinary life with the power of Your Spirit.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – How Do We Flourish in the 21st Century Workplace?

 

The opening scene of the timeless family film Madagascar depicts the exuberant zebra, Marty, having an identity crisis. Marty – along with his three friends, Gloria the hippopotamus, Melman the giraffe, and Alex the lion – wants more from his life. He wants to flourish. And for him, his job as the token zebra in the New York Central Park Zoo isn’t providing the kind of flourishing that his heart longs for.

Marty’s predicament is not difficult to identify with. The longing for a life of flourishing is ubiquitous to the human heart.

Though we may define “flourishing” in slightly different ways, the longing for a life of flourishing is ubiquitous to the human heart. And the workplace is where many of us turn in order to find it.

But what is “flourishing”?

It is a question that humankind has debated for millennia, and one that I certainly don’t purport to satisfy here. However, there are some things we can reasonably say about flourishing.

The parallels between Marty’s struggles and our own reveal at least three central components to flourishing:

  • Finding belonging
  • Finding significance
  • Finding purpose

While we differ on how we define each of these, in some way we are all trying to fit in, to have our achievements recognized and to find and fulfill our purpose. The problem is that when we try and do it on our own, we inevitably run into trouble.

Three Pillars

The prevailing secularist narrative leads people to reject God and look inside themselves to find answers to all three pillars of flourishing.

We are urged to find our tribe to which to belong, to achieve in order to gain significance and to self-discover in order to find our purpose.

When we reject God, we must bear the burden of our own flourishing. Ultimately, it’s all up to us and it usually plays out in our workplace. The problem, of course, is that such an approach does not work. Those of us who center our lives exclusively on work are left exhausted, despondent, unfulfilled or a combination of all three.

The evidence is conclusive. Thanks to communications technology, we are the most interconnected we have ever been but we are the loneliest we have ever been. We work hard to build homes, bank accounts and identities for ourselves but we still struggle for significance. We look inside ourselves for answers yet all we find are more questions.

The answer is clear.

When we reject God, we must bear the burden of our own flourishing. As a result, we are forced to anchor our sense of belonging, our significance and our purpose to two things that are intrinsically unreliable: Our own efforts at work and the volatility of man-made cultural, political, economic, social and moral systems.

Divinely Endowed

Our individual and collective experience reveals a ground-breaking truth – that belonging must be transcendentally anchored, significancemust be eternally grounded and purpose must be divinely endowed.

When we consider these three truths, the Christian message comes roaring to life.

The message of Jesus Christ is the only way through which forgiveness, significance and divine purpose are offered freely alongside adoption into the eternal family of God.

Through him, we are promised eternal belonging, enduring identity and divinely endowed purpose.

The fact that this unique offer of relationship comes freely through unconditional grace, simply adds an experiential cherry to the existential sundae.

As Marty the zebra himself discovers, true flourishing doesn’t come from within, it comes from without, and it is anchored not in effort but in relationship.

We all have that unconditional offer of a loving relationship with our Creator God through the person of Jesus Christ. Through Him, we are promised eternal belonging, enduring identity and divinely endowed purpose. That purpose – to be in loving relationship with God himself – is what so often alludes us amidst the haze of our failed self-actualization.

It is this divinely endowed purpose that the great thinker and writer St. Augustine referred to when he so powerfully wrote: “O’ God, you made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

Like Marty, perhaps we need to make peace with the reality that we cannot ultimately control our environment or our circumstances – at work or anywhere else.

However, we have the incredible offer of flourishing through a relationship with God amidst the volatility of a broken world.

God himself came into the world – as Jesus Christ – to die on a cross for you, to give you the forgiveness you don’t deserve, the relationship you so deeply yearn for and the flourishing your heart seeks after.

As you approach the challenges, successes and opportunities at work that 2019 brings, remember: The key to flourishing in the 21st century workplace begins by understanding that true flourishing cannot be achieved in the 21st century workplace.

Our only hope for true flourishing is through relationship with Jesus Christ. Once we step into this relationship, we are freed to embrace challenges, enjoy successes and endure failures at work, secure in the assurance that our belonging, significance and purpose are anchored in the loving heart of God.

Article By Max Jeganathan

This article was originally published by Salt&Light on November 14, 2018.

 

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 Can Help!

 

“O my people, trust Him all the time. Pour out your longings before Him, for He can help!” (Psalm 62:8).

“I have no faith in this matter,” a minister said to an evangelist, “but I see it is in the Word of God and I am going to act on God’s Word no matter how I feel.”

The evangelist smiled. “Why, that is faith!” he said.

The Word of God is the secret of faith. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” We do not attain or achieve faith, we simply receive it as we read God’s Word.

Many a child of God is failing to enjoy God’s richest blessings in Christ because he fails to receive the gift of faith. He looks within himself for some quality that will enable him to believe, instead of “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

In the words of an anonymous poem published by War Cry:

He does not even watch the way.
His father’s hand, he knows,
Will guide his tiny feet along
The pathway as he goes
A childlike faith! A perfect trust!
God grant us today,
A faith that grasps our Father’s hand
And trusts Him all the way.

Bible Reading: Psalm 62:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will be wise in the ways of God today by looking for help from the One whom I know I can trust.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Your Uniqueness Shows Who God Is

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The Bible says that each person is given something to do that shows who God is!  (1 Corinthians 12:7 MSG).  When God gives an assignment, he also gives the skill.  Look at your life.  What do you consistently do well?  What do you love to do?  And what do others love for you to do?

So much for the excuse, I don’t have anything to offer…or… I can’t do anything.  And enough of its arrogant opposite, I have to do everything!  Imitate the apostle Paul who said, “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).

So extract your uniqueness.  “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you!” (2 Timothy 1:6 NASB). And do so to make a big deal out of God!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Mario Lopez criticized for transgender remarks: A Christian response to cultural backlash

Mario Lopez first became famous for his role as A.C. Slater on the show Saved by the Bell. He has since carved out a solid career as the co-host of Access Hollywood and is a go-to for many people on understanding Hollywood trends as a result.

However, after comments he made in June on The Candace Owens Show resurfaced, Lopez has been in the news for a very different reason.

While on the show, Owens brought up the trend among many celebrities to allow their children to pick their own gender.

Lopez responded: “Look, I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids . . . But at the same time . . . if you’re three years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way, or you think you’re a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination then.”

He went on to say, “I think parents need to allow their kids to be kids, but at the same time, you got to be the adult in the situation. . . . I think the formative years is when you start having those discussions and really start making these declarations.”

LGBTQ+ backlash

As one might expect, many in the LGBTQ+ community were quick to decry the Access Hollywood host’s comments.

Queer Eye co-host Karamo Brown spoke for many in that community when he remarked that he was “disappointed” by what he’d read. Brown said that, while he disagreed with those who thought Lopez should lose his job for the remarks, the host “should be given the opportunity to learn why his comments are harmful to trans youth and their parents.”

Others were less measured.

Out magazine’s executive editor Raquel Willis wrote, “Transphobic parents are the danger not children being their truest selves.”

And while Lopez has since apologized for the remarks, calling his comments “ignorant and insensitive,” he should not have been terribly surprised by the backlash.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Mario Lopez criticized for transgender remarks: A Christian response to cultural backlash