Charles Stanley – Saved for God’s Glory

 

Ephesians 1:5-6

Salvation is an amazing gift from our heavenly Father, and since we are the recipients, it might appear that we’re the primary reason He sent His Son to save us. After all, He loved us so much He didn’t want us to perish. And though this is certainly true, the greater reality is that He saved us for “the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6).

When sinners are saved, God’s glory and grace are displayed. The salvation that He offers …

Highlights His generosity (v. 3). God not only gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins, but He has also blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven.

Reveals the Father’s mercy (v. 4). He took the initiative in salvation by choosing us “before the foundation of the world.” His mercy toward us reaches from eternity past to eternity future.

Emphasizes His holiness (v. 4). Because God is holy, His goal is to make us holy and blameless so we can dwell with Him forever. This process of transformation begins at our conversion and will be completed at our resurrection.

Shows divine love (vv. 4-5). To rescue us from condemnation would have been enough, but in love our heavenly Father chose to adopt us and make us part of His family.

Displays God’s kindness (v. 5). He saved us “according to the kind intention of His will” and not because of any worthiness or good behavior on our part.

Our greatest human need is to know and love the God who saved us. And through salvation, we come to experience His glorious grace.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 54-57

 

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Our Daily Bread — Loaves and Fishes

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 68–69; Romans 8:1–21

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

Matthew 14:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 14:13–21

A young boy came home from church and announced with great excitement that the lesson had been about a boy who “loafed and fished all day.” He, of course, was thinking of the little boy who offered his loaves and fish to Jesus.

Jesus had been teaching the crowds all day, and the disciples suggested He send them into the village to buy bread. Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16). The disciples were perplexed for there were more than 5,000 to be fed!

You may know the rest of the story: a boy gave his lunch—five small loaves of bread and two fish—and with it Jesus fed the crowd (vv. 13–21). One school of thought contends that the boy’s generosity simply moved others in the crowd to share their lunches, but Matthew clearly intends us to understand that this was a miracle, and the story appears in all four gospels.

What can we learn? Family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and others stand around us in varying degrees of need. Should we send them away to those who are more capable than we are? Certainly, some people’s needs exceed our ability to help them, but not always. Whatever you have—a hug, a kind word, a listening ear, a brief prayer, some wisdom you’ve gathered—give it to Jesus and see what He can do.

By David H. Roper

Reflect & Pray

What’s one need of another person that you may be able to meet? What can you give to Jesus to be used to bless others?

Jesus, give us eyes to see the ways we can care for others. Lead us and use us.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – As Is

 

In my mother’s antique shop were a variety of treasures for a curious child. My personal favorite was the Victrola that sat stately in the corner, a large internal phonograph that begged to be heard. The sounds it made were bold and cavernous, like an opera in a wooden box. This one was an early model, I heard adults say, and it was in mint condition. So it seemed peculiar to me that our frequent requests to put it into action were, from time to time, resisted. To me it was a perfect treasure, a magnificent and flawless toy. To the motherly owner of the store, it was a treasure that was capable of breaking before it sold. “As is” was not a phrase she wanted to add to the price tag.

A label that was seen occasionally within the shop, “as is” conveyed an item with damage or brokenness of some sort. “As is” marked the clock that had stopped ticking, or the rocking horse that had a crack in one of its legs. Because I knew my mother as one who could fix almost anything, the label also conveyed to me a certain sense of defeat. Whatever the item, it was a lost cause—a treasure bearing some distinguishable, irreparable flaw.

In different ways and in varying degrees throughout our lives, many of us feel something like the object marked “as is,” or the treasure with only a matter of time before something goes awry. With a sense of defeat, we view our lives through the lens of what is broken or has been broken, what is irreparable or what might break. Looking ahead, we see the broken down trailer behind us, which seems to declare emphatically our status “as is.”

Yet writing centuries before our own, King David wrote of God:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.(1)

Such words run counter to cultures anywhere and everywhere. Brokenness is usually not something we are comfortable admitting, let alone formally presenting it as something that is pleasing to anyone. Whether in ourselves or in others, we are at times almost averse to fragility. Even as Christians who hold knowingly to the cruciform image of Christ, we seem distinctly uncomfortable with broken and grieving people, defeated and weakened lives. Yet it is by the Cross we live. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows… But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.”(2) Isn’t it strange that we who are saved by one who was broken should struggle in the presence of brokenness at all?

Like the psalmist, the apostle points to the great potential within fragility. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”(3)

Whether we come to God shattered by our own sin, like David, or groaning from living in an imperfect world, we are never nearer to Christ than when we come with nothing in our hands to offer. God’s desire is that we would come as we are—weary or overwhelmed, defeated by life, crushed by injustice. Before the cross, there is no lost cause or irreparable flaw. For in life, as in an antique shop, there would be no recognition of brokenness if there were not such a thing as wholeness.

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Psalm 51:16-17.
(2) Isaiah 53:4-5.
(3) 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – You Could Use a Blessing

 

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. — 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

This Scripture in 1 Thessalonians tells us to always show kindness. Living in this generous kind of way is pleasing to God. There are many other scriptures that also tell us to be good to everybody, not just those we consider to be like-minded with or who are in our church.

Even if someone is your employee and they serve you, you should think of ways that you can serve them also. When you get your morning coffee, bring one for them. Pick up after yourself and don’t make extra work for them. The people who help us in our lives should always be shown appreciation.

My daughter once wrote a note of appreciation to her garbage collectors and gave them a gift card to get lunch. I think these things not only bless people, but can often be shocking because they almost never happen. The world is filled with people who work hard doing jobs that are not very pleasant, and yet nobody notices.

I once saw a woman cleaning the bathroom at a department store where I shop, and I gave her some money and said, “You look like you work hard and I thought you could use a blessing.” I smiled and quickly left. A few minutes later, she found me in the shoe department and expressed her gratitude and told me how this act of kindness lifted her up. She told me that she did indeed work hard and felt nobody paid much attention to that fact.

You’ll be amazed at how your joy will increase if you make a habit of noticing those who usually aren’t noticed. God watches out for them, and He will be delighted to have you make yourself available as His partner in this endeavor.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to be a blessing to everyone I come in contact with today. Please lead and guide me by Your Spirit and show me practical ways I can encourage those who aren’t often recognized. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Authority Over the Enemy

 

“And I have given you authority over all the power of the Enemy” (Luke 10:19).

By nature I am a very shy, reserved person. But I can look the world in the face and say, “I’m a child of the King. There is royal blood in my veins.”

Because of our identification with Christ, we are no longer ordinary people. The authority of God is available to those who believe in Christ. What a promise!

“Authority over all the power of the Enemy!” That is His promise, but it is something you and I must claim each time we face the enemy. We are to believe this; it is an intellectually valid fact. It is not exercising positive thinking and blindly hoping for the best; rather, it is claiming and leaning on the promises of God by faith.

Supernatural authority belongs to the believer, and there is a difference between authority and power. A policeman standing at a busy intersection has no physical power that would enable him to stop cars coming from all directions. But that little whistle he blows and the uniform he wears represent authority, and because of that authority the drivers know that they had better stop.

You and I have authority – given to us by the Lord Himself – over all the power of the enemy. He may tempt us; he may attack us; he may sorely try us. But victory is assured us as we continue to trust and obey our Lord and claim by faith His supernatural resources for our strength.

Bible Reading: Luke 10:20-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Because I have been given authority over the enemy, by faith I will exercise that authority on behalf of others as well as myself, believing God for ultimate victory in each situation.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Making a Big Deal “To Do” of God

God endows us with gifts so we can make him known. Period!  God endues the Olympian with speed, the salesman with savvy, the surgeon with skill. Why?  The big answer is to make a big to-do out of God. To brandish him. Herald him.

God has given gifts to each of us from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well. . .then God will be given glory” (1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT).  Make it your life’s encore to the end of time that “he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything (1 Peter 4:11 MSG).

And when you magnify your Maker with your strengths, your days will grow suddenly sweet.  And to really sweeten your world, use your uniqueness to make a big deal about God—every day of your life!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Two mass shootings in two days: God’s question for his people today

Horror. Anger. Grief. Anguish. Heartbreak. Mourning. Shock.

These are some of my emotions this morning. But surprise is not among them. And that is one of the tragedies of these tragedies.

A man opened fire at an El Paso shopping area Saturday morning, killing at least twenty people and wounding twenty-six others. He was apprehended at the scene.

Early the next morning, another shooter opened fire, this time in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio. At least nine people were murdered, including the gunman’s sister, and twenty-six others were wounded. The shooter was killed by police.

There have now been 251 mass shootings in America this year. And 2019 is little more than seven months old.

A murderer living twenty minutes from my home

Watching the national reaction to these tragedies, it seems to me that despair has captured our collective soul.

We are afraid that no place in America is safe today. We can’t put metal detectors at every store, mall, movie theater, and office building. And even if we did, murderers would just attack us in the parking lot.

How do you know that wherever you’re going today won’t be next? The fact is, you don’t. Dallas is not safer than Dayton. A garlic festival in California is not safer than a Walmart in El Paso.

A young man living in Allen, Texas (twenty minutes north of my home) drove ten hours to massacre people in El Paso and is now one of the most infamous mass murderers in American history. Perhaps someone living in your community will be next.

On a morning like this, it’s easy to wonder how the Christian message can possibly be relevant to the crisis of mass shootings. How can the gospel protect us from the next massacre? How can it make a difference in this epidemic?

What mass shooters have in common

Tomorrow, I plan to answer our question in the context of the racist worldview that reportedly motivated the El Paso shooter. For today, I’d like to respond more personally.

In the wake of the El Paso massacre, the Los Angeles Times published a vitally important op-ed by Jillian Peterson and James Densley. These university professors run The Violence Project, a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to reducing violence in society and improving policy and practice through research and analysis.

Working on a project funded by the research arm of the US Department of Justice, they have studied mass shootings since 1966, along with media, social media, manifestos, suicide notes, trial transcripts, and medical records. They have discovered four commonalities among the perpetrators of nearly all the mass shootings they have studied:

One: The vast majority experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age.

Two: Nearly every mass shooter reached an identifiable crisis point in the weeks or months leading up to the shooting.

Three: Most of the shooters studied the actions of other shooters and sought validation for their motives.

Four: They all had the means to carry out their plans by obtaining weapons legally, illegally, or from family members.

As a result, Peterson and Densley recommend tighter control of media sites that validate violence, improved security and weapons control, and proactive responses to those in personal crisis.

The darker the night, the more crucial our light

While society should obviously take all effective measures to protect itself, here’s my biblical point: Jesus can change any life he touches. He can heal any trauma. He can redeem any crisis. The God who turned a murdering Pharisee into a missionary of grace can transform anyone.

Do you believe that any person stands beyond the transforming power of our Savior’s love? What about the person planning the next massacre?

The more secularized our culture becomes, the more evangelistic our churches must become. The more people during a crisis ridicule our prayers, the more they need our prayers. The more traumatized and victimized our society, the more vital our compassion. (For more, see Ryan Denison’s “The Gilroy Garlic Festival: Moving forward by not moving on.”)

The greater the threat of violence, the more urgent our message.

That’s why we must do all we can to reach the next shooters before they strike. We must use our influence to permeate our broken culture with biblical truth and grace. We must share God’s word and love with everyone we can in every way we can.

God’s question for his people today

Jesus is weeping beside twenty-nine graves today (John 11:35). He is calling us to join him with heartbroken compassion for the victims and their families and a renewed commitment to our gospel mandate.

We are still the only “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The darker the night, the more crucial our light.

One lesson of El Paso and Dayton is that every community is a mission field. As a result, every Christian is a missionary.

This morning, I hear our Lord asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8).

What is your answer to him?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/