Charles Stanley – Who Is Jesus?

 

John 1:1-5

We know that most people have some inaccurate perceptions of Jesus, but this is also a problem in the church today. A survey called “The State of Theology” asked professing evangelical Christians about their beliefs, and the answers were a mixture of truth and error. For instance, 97 percent do hold the belief that there is one true God in three persons—Father, Son, and Spirit. However, 78 percent erroneously believe that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.

Our salvation is dependent on following the One whom God sent to redeem us. Therefore, we must be certain we’re trusting in the only true Savior—Jesus—as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. In today’s passage, the apostle John describes Him as “the Word” and lists five attributes.

Jesus is eternal. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1-5). Jesus didn’t come into existence when He was conceived and then born as a baby. He existed before time even began.

He is God. “The Word was God” (v. 1). He has always been and will never cease being divine.

He is with God (John 1:1-2). The Son and the Father, along with the Holy Spirit, have always existed eternally as separate persons while being one in nature.

Jesus is the Creator. “All things came into being through Him” (John 1:3). In fact, nothing came into existence apart from Him.

In Him is life (John 1:4). Jesus is the source of all life, both temporal and eternal.

Is this the Jesus you’ve trusted for your salvation? Though He became a man, we must never cease to recognize and worship Him as the Son of God.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 23-25

 

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Our Daily Bread — It’s Slippery Out Here!

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 140–142; 1 Corinthians 14:1–20

Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil.

Psalm 141:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 141

Years ago, when I was learning to ski, I followed my son Josh down what appeared to be a gentle slope. With my eyes on him I failed to notice he turned down the steepest hill on the mountain, and I found myself careening down the slope, completely out of control. I cratered, of course.

Psalm 141 shows how we can easily find ourselves slipping down sin’s slope. Prayer is one of the ways we stay alert to those slopes: “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil” (v. 4) is a plea that echoes the Lord’s Prayer almost exactly: “Lead [me] not into temptation, but deliver [me] from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). In His goodness, God hears and answers this prayer.

And then I find in this psalm another agent of grace: a faithful friend. “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it” (Psalm 141:5). Temptations are subtle. We’re not always aware that we’re going wrong. A true friend can be objective. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6 nkjv). It’s hard to accept rebuke, but if we see the wounding as a “kindness” it can become an anointing that puts us back on the path of obedience.

May we be open to truth from a trusted friend and rely on God through prayer.

By:  David H. Roper

Reflect & Pray

What slippery slopes do you gravitate toward? In what ways can you set a guard over your heart?

Father, please keep my feet from straying. Help me to listen to You and good friends.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Space for Sorrow

 

As a young girl, one of my favorite bible stories was the epic encounter between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. With David meets Goliath odds, Elijah faces off against 450 prophets of Baal in a contest pitting the God of Israel against the Canaanite god Baal. Which deity would answer the prayers of the respective prophets to consume the altar sacrifice?

This is an incident filled with dramatic tension and awesome displays of power. The Lord answers Elijah with fire from heaven that not only consumes the sacrifice, but also licks up every last drop of water poured out from not one, but four pitchers of water. The story ends with the destruction of the prophets of Baal and the peoples’ declaration that the Lord is God.

Now, as a grownup, I still love this story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, but not for the reasons I loved it as a young girl. Instead, I love what seems to be an anti-climactic postscript to the story. Despite seeing the glory and power of God on display in such dramatic fashion, and winning a great victory, Elijah falls into what could likely be called depression. Threatened by Queen Jezebel, he runs for his life into the wilderness. There, under a lone broom tree, he prays to God to take his life, not once but two times. As one commentator notes, “Those who have suffered mental anguish in their lives know all too well the depths to which Elijah has descended. He (and they) has entered the deep spots in the psychological ocean, and then has found a narrow slit in the ocean floor, a Marianas Trench of the soul, where he descends further still into the inky abyss. All he can think of is his desire to die.”(2)

As one reading this story, this is a surprising turn of events. How could Elijah feel this way? After all, didn’t he just see God mightily answer his prayer? One might expect a God who would reproach Elijah for feeling so badly, for his lack of faith, for his despair. And yet, the narrative offers no exhortation or chastening. Instead, an angelic messenger is touching Elijah, urging him to eat bread and water prepared for him by a heavenly servant. Indeed, the angel comes again and feeds Elijah a second time urging him: “Arise, eat for the journey is too great for you.”

Given God’s firey display from heaven in the encounter with the prophets of Baal, the reader might expect another dramatic display from God. And indeed, as Elijah waits on Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God, he experiences a strong wind, and a mighty earthquake, and then a consuming fire. But with each of these cataclysms the narrator repeats a refrain: The Lord was not in the wind, or the earthquake or the fire. Instead, the Lord comes to Elijah in a gentle blowing. God meets Elijah at the very place of his despair, not with correction or reprimand, not with a “buck up and get going” or a “keep your chin up” but with a grace as gentle as a soft breeze.

Like Elijah, there may be days when we feel at the height of heights, assured of all answers, victorious in our daily battles, maybe even confident of God’s saving activity all around. But there are also days when we need permission to feel badly. Despair is our only friend and the obstacles and challenges of life conspire against faith, hope, and love. It is deeply encouraging to see that, even in this place, God draws near with gentleness.

The gentleness of God on display in Elijah’s dark depression is the same God sung about in one of Israel’s ancient psalms:

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I make my bed in the nether world,
behold you are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
even there your hand will lead me and your right hand will lay hold of me.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Space for Sorrow

Joyce Meyer – Praise Your Way to Victory

 

And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. — 2 Chronicles 20:15

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

If life sometimes seems to be a battle that causes you to feel upset and fearful, you’ll be glad to know you were not meant to fight the battle alone. The Bible says the battle is God’s.

God never loses a battle. And when you work with Him according to His plan, you won’t either.

During trying times, do you worry or worship? Praise and worship should not be limited to a few minutes in church. If you’re not worshiping at home on a regular basis, you may feel like the victim instead of the victor.

But God’s Word clearly details the Holy Ghost-anointed battle plan to combat every challenge you face. When you begin to substitute praise for petition and worship for worry, God will move on your behalf.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for always being with me. Please help me to praise and worship You in the midst of life’s “battles” and keep my eyes focused on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Not by the Law

 

“Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them: His laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. But now God has shown us a different way to heaven – not by ‘being good enough’ and trying to keep His laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says He will accept and acquit us – declare us ‘not guilty’ – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we can all be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us ‘not guilty’ of offending Him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in His kindness freely takes away our sins” (Romans 3:20-24).

One of my greatest concerns through the years, especially for those who are involved in Christian ministry around the world, has been the problem of legalism. In my opinion, legalism is the greatest heresy of Christianity. The reason legalism is so dangerous is that it is extremely subtle in its appeal. It is attractive even to the most sincere Christians, who are genuinely seeking to please God by determining to be “good enough” and to “earn God’s favor” through the good works of their self-effort.

How often there has been a tendency to forget “the just shall live by faith,” and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” There is a strong tendency to work hard in the flesh in order to please God. But if we trust Jesus Christ to take away such sins in our lives, He is faithful to do so, as He promised.

Bible Reading: Romans 3:25-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will remind myself often that the law is merely a way to show me that I am a sinner. By faith, I will trust Christ and accept His grace and forgiveness. By faith, I will draw upon the mighty resources of God to live the supernatural life, which is my heritage in Christ.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Changing Doors

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

As one Harvard professor said, “We think money will bring lots of happiness for a long time, yet actually it brings a little happiness for a short time.”   We’ve all seen happy peasants and miserable millionaires, right?

There is another option.  It requires no credit card, monthly mortgage, or stroke of fortune.  It demands no airline tickets or hotel reservations.  Age, ethnicity, and gender are not factors.  You don’t have to change jobs, change cities, change looks, or change neighborhoods.  But you might need to change doors.

The motto on the front door says “Happiness happens when you get.” The sign on the lesser-used back door counters “Happiness happens when you give.”  Doing good does good for the doer.

Read more How Happiness Happens – In this book Max shares the unexpected path to a lasting happiness, one that produces reliable joy in any season of life. Based on the teachings of Jesus and backed by modern research, How Happiness Happens presents a surprising but practical way of living that will change you from the inside out.

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – ‘Things like this happen all over planet Earth all the time’: The key to optimism in hard times

 

“This is Odessa, Texas. Things like this don’t happen here. This is small-town Texas.”

This is what Senior Pastor Del Traffanstedt told his congregation Sunday morning after a shooter killed seven people and injured twenty-two in his community. His church is within sight of the movie theater where the violent chase ended.

Then the pastor added: “The reality is, things like this happen all over planet Earth all the time.”

The latest on Dorian

The apparent randomness of the attack in West Texas underscores the threat it represents. It seems that anyone, anywhere, can be a victim of violence.

The same is true of natural disasters. As of this morning, Hurricane Dorian has killed at least five people in the Bahamas and left countless people homeless. The National Hurricane Center warns that the storm will get “dangerously close” to the Florida coast late today through Wednesday and will threaten Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina by Thursday.

In other news, a dive boat caught fire off the Southern California coast Monday morning, leaving at least twenty-five people dead and nine others missing. A twenty-seven-year-old minor-league catcher for the Detroit Tigers died yesterday from injuries sustained in a skateboarding crash.

A five-year-old girl was killed in Brooklyn when a decorative stone fence fell on her. Earlier this summer, a fifteen-year-old Tennessee girl was killed on a church mission trip in Mexico when a tree fell on her group’s van.

Why do optimistic people live longer?

You and I can neither predict nor control the future, but we can control how we respond to its unpredictability. Our response, in turn, plays a pivotal role in our personal future.

A new study suggests that people who tend to be optimistic are likelier than others to live to be eighty-five years old or more. Researchers from Boston University and Harvard found that the most optimistic men and women demonstrated, on average, an 11–15 percent longer lifespan.

How can we become more optimistic? A clinical health psychologist explained that she works with patients to “uncover systems of beliefs and assumptions people are making about themselves in their lives” so they can “begin to change those.”

When we begin making optimistic assumptions, our attitudes toward our experiences become more positive, our stress levels respond, and our physical health can improve as well. In other words, when we choose to view life positively, life often responds in kind.

The key to relational truth

This psychological principle also holds true spiritually.

When tragedy strikes, it’s human nature to cry with Christ from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). We want God to explain his ways so we can decide whether or not to trust him with our pain.

But what if we cannot experience his help until we trust his heart?

Relational truth must be chosen to be experienced. You cannot prove you should get married until you get married. You cannot prove you’ll recover from surgery until you trust the surgeon.

You should examine the evidence, but then you must step beyond the evidence into a relationship that becomes self-validating.

“Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small”

So it is with God. He wants us to develop and use our intellectual capacities as fully as possible (cf. 2 Peter 1:5; Matthew 22:37). But when it comes to understanding the mind of God, he tells us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Our finite, fallen minds may not be able to comprehend his perfect will until we are with him in heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12).

And as long as we hold our Father at arm’s length while we wait for explanations that may not help us, we forfeit the mercy that will.

President John F. Kennedy kept on his desk a block of wood inscribed with the words, “O God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” They were adapted from this poem by Winfred Ernest Garrison:

Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small.
It cannot be that any happy fate
Will me befall
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.

Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I curb and bit them on the long
And saltry trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?

Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.

Will you trust your boat to your Lord today?

 

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