Charles Stanley – The Work of the Holy Spirit

 

John 16:7-15

If someone asked what the Holy Spirit does, how would you answer? Some Christians may not be aware of what He is accomplishing in their life, but the Spirit’s work isn’t a total mystery—Scripture tells us what the role of our divine Helper is.

He convicts us of sin (John 16:8). This is the first step in awakening us to our need for salvation. But even afterwards, the Spirit continues revealing sin in our life so we can immediately confess and receive forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

He guides us into all truth (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit teaches about Jesus Christ and God’s Word, and He helps us discern the difference between truth and error.

He fills us (Eph. 5:18). To be filled with the Spirit means that He is directing our path, much like a ship that is driven along by the wind filling its sails. This requires that we surrender our life to Him, acknowledging that He owns us and has the right to lead.

He bears fruit through us (Gal. 5:22-23). The Spirit produces qualities we could never consistently display on our own: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Although the Holy Spirit indwells and seals us immediately upon salvation, His work within each believer takes a lifetime. He is our constant Helper, who transforms us into Christ’s image and equips us for our daily challenges so we don’t have to struggle through life in our own strength. In all of our difficulties, conflicts, and heartaches, He guides our way, guards our hearts, and gives us His wisdom.

Bible in One Year: Obadiah 1, Jonah 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Shield Around Me

 

Bible in a Year :Song of Songs 1–3; Galatians 2

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

Psalm 3:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 3

Our church experienced an agonizing loss when Paul, our gifted worship minister, died at the age of thirty-one in a boating accident. Paul and his wife, DuRhonda, were no strangers to pain; they had buried several children who hadn’t made it to term. Now there would be another grave near the small graves of these little ones. The life-crushing crisis this family experienced hit those who loved them like a knockout blow to the head.

David was no stranger to personal and family crises. In Psalm 3, he found himself overwhelmed because of the rebellion of his son Absalom. Rather than stay and fight, he chose to flee his home and throne (2 Samuel 15:13–23). Though “many” considered him forsaken by God (Psalm 3:2), David knew better; he saw the Lord as his protector (v. 3), and he called upon Him accordingly (v. 4). And so did DuRhonda. In the midst of her grief, when hundreds had gathered to remember her husband, she raised her soft, tender voice in a song that expressed confidence in God.

When doctors’ reports are not encouraging, when financial pressures won’t ease up, when efforts to reconcile relationships fail, when death has left those we cherish in its wake—may we too be strengthened to say, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (v. 3).

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

How did you respond the last time you found yourself in an overwhelming situation? How does knowing God is a shield around you help?

Heavenly Father, help me to see that though life can be uncomfortable, I can find comfort in You.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In a World of Stories

 

“You can’t stop stories being told,” Dr. Parnassus tells his relentless foe with religious assurance in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The world of belief-systems and worldviews is indeed a complicated playground of stories, storytellers, passions, and allegiances—and this is one film which certainly attests to that complicated dance. What makes the interplay of story most complicated is perhaps what is often our inability to name or even to perceive these interacting powers in the first place. That which permeates our surroundings, subconsciously molds our understanding, and continuously informs our vision of reality, is not always easy to articulate. The dominate culture shapes our world in ways we seldom even realize, and often in ways we cannot realize, until something outside of our culture comes along and introduces us, and the scales fall from our eyes.

Further complicating the great arena of narratives is the fact that we often do not even recognize certain systems for the metanarratives that they are, or else we grossly underestimate the story’s power on our own. Whatever version or versions of the story we utilize to understand human history—atheism, capitalism, pluralism, consumerism—their roots run very deep in the human soul. This is why Bishop Kenneth Carder can refer to the global market economy as a “dominant god,” or consumerism, economism, and nationalism as religions.(1) These deeply rooted ideologies are challenged only when a different ideology or imagination comes knocking, when a different faith-system comes along and upsets the imagination that powerfully orders our world.

This is perhaps one reason that the biblical imagination presented in Scripture calls again and again to remember the story, to tell of the acts of God in history, and to bear in mind and vision the one who is near. For into this world of belief-systems and worldviews, God tells the story of creation and the pursuit of its redemption, and then Christ comes in our own flesh and proclaims a kingdom entirely other. The narrative imagination we discover in Scripture introduces us not only to a new world but a world that jarringly shows us our own.

The signs and scenes leading to the incarnation alone challenge many of our cultural norms, turning upside down ideas of authority, power, and glory, presenting us a kingdom that reverses everything we know. What kind of a king crouches down to his subjects to feed the masses or wash their feet? What kind of a leader tells those under him that the way to the top requires a dedication to the bottom? What kind of God comes as child and leaves on a cross? What kind of meal lifts us to another kingdom where we are brought into the presence of the host and asked to taste him? Yet these are the stories he told and Christians tell; this is the imagination he gives us to see him, the world, our selves and neighbors. “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19). Not long after their meal, his physical body was broken, too.

The story of the Christian is one that remembers the very first and the very last moments of a rabbi and his disciples—a child born, a teacher present, a meal shared, a lamb revealed, feet washed by one who claimed to be both king and servant. It is a story that invites its hearers into a kingdom entirely different than the many stories before them, connecting them with a God who somehow reigns within a realm that is here and now, and also approaching. In the Lord’s Supper, Christians are literally “taking in” this biblical imagination, which unites followers with Christ in such a way that helps us to live as he lived in a world of stories.

When the apostle Paul called early followers of Christ not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds so that they might discern what is the will of God—”what is good and acceptable and perfect,” he was reminding them that there are overlapping and contradicting stories all around them, but that it is the story of God that earns the role of orienting narrative. In other words, Christ does not leave his followers with the option of living unaware of all the subconscious ways in which we are formed by the world of stories. Living into the kingdom of God means recognizing the power of God’s story beside every competing narrative—not necessarily shutting each one out, but interpreting every other story through the Story. Living further into the biblical imagination presented in Scripture, the Christian’s very life, like that of Christ’s, shows the world the subversive power of an imagination that moves far beyond the systems of “postmodernism,” “consumerism,” and “nationalism.”

Whether Christian, atheist, or Hindu, no one can avoid being in the world. We cannot escape the world’s formative stories, nor should we want to escape the particular place where we have been planted.(3) Yet, nor do we want it to become so much our home that we cannot see all the dust on the windows or feel the draft of a roofless shelter. For the Christian, the more we find ourselves living into the imagination of this different kingdom, a world breathed by the Father, proclaimed by Christ, and revealed by the Spirit, the unchallenged, unseen storylines of our worlds come sharply into focus. And the more we taste and see of the goodness of God, the more we taste and see of Christ in the land of the living. Like Paul, at times something like scales fall from our eyes and the Spirit compels us to get up and re-experience our baptisms, going further into the biblical imagination, where our voices regain strength in telling and retelling the unstoppable story.(4)

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Kenneth Carder, “Market and Mission: Competing Visions for Transforming Ministry,” Lecture, Duke Divinity School, Oct. 16, 2001, 1.
(2) Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1995), 95.
(3) Jesus himself prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but I ask that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
(4) “And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength” (Acts 9:18-19).

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Joyce Meyer – Form New Habits

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. — 2 Corinthians 5:17

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

God’s Word teaches us that when we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, He gives us a new nature. He gives us His nature. He also gives us a spirit of discipline and self-control, which is vital in allowing us to choose the ways of our new nature. He gives us a sound mind (see 2 Tim. 1:7), and that means we can think about things properly without being controlled by emotion. The way we once were passes away, and we have all the equipment we need for a brand-new way of behaving.

God gives us the ability and offers to help us, but we are not puppets, and God will not manipulate us. We must choose spirit over flesh and right over wrong. Our renewed spirits will then control our souls and bodies or, to say it another way, the inner person will control the outer person.

Without God’s help we have difficulty doing things in moderation. We frequently eat too much, spend too much money, have too much entertainment, and talk too much. We are excessive in our actions because we behave emotionally. And after the thing is done and cannot be undone, we regret doing it. But we can choose to form new habits, not doing something just because we feel like it, but instead doing what will produce the best result in the end.

We do not have to live in regret. God gives us His Spirit to enable us to make right and wise choices. He urges us, guides and leads us, but we still have to cast the deciding vote. If you have been casting the wrong vote, all you need to do is change your vote. Forming new habits will require making a decision to not do what you feel like doing unless it agrees with God’s will.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for constantly changing me and making me more like You. Help me today to obey Your direction and make wise choices. Help me to form healthy habits that will produce good results in the future. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He’s in the Midst

 

“For where two or three gather together because they are Mine, I will be right there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

What better proof is there of the fact that Jesus is God, that He is omnipresent? As you and I gather with our little groups – whether two or three, or 200 – Jesus is there in the midst. And at the same time that wonderful promise applies to similar groups in Africa, Israel, China and anywhere else!

This general assertion is made to support the particular promise made to his apostles in verse 19. Those who meet in His name can be sure He is among them.

An omniscient, omnipotent God – and His Son Jesus Christ – are omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time)! What a glorious truth! Let your imagination soar: among the Masai tribe in Kenya, Africa, or the Quechua Indians in Ecuador – if they are meeting in that name which is above every name, even Jesus Christ our Lord, He is right there meeting with them.

Equally important, you and one or two friends meeting together in His name can have the assurance that He is right there meeting with you as well. And you can feel His presence – especially as you acknowledge the fact that He is there and begin to worship Him for who and what He is.

Joy of joys, God and Jesus Christ who meet with missionaries and national believers on the field and with church leaders in their councils also meet with you and me today.

Bible Reading: Acts 20:32-38

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look for new opportunities to invoke His presence in my midst by fellowshipping with other believers in His name.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Ministry Vs. Vain Ambition

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?  Tell her to come and help me!” (Luke 10:40).

Of all the ironies.  Martha was in the presence of the Prince of Peace, yet she was the picture of stress.  Martha’s downfall was not her work or request; it was her motivation.  Rather than making a meal for Jesus, it seems she was trying to make a big deal about her service.

Might there be a bit of Martha within us?  What begins as a desire to serve Christ metastasizes into an act of impressing people.  And gifted Marthas become miserable mumblers.  Yet the Martha within is not easily silenced.  Mark it down.  When ministry becomes vain ambition, nothing good happens.  And Jesus does not get served.  No wonder the apostle Paul was so insistent when he said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition” (Philippians 2:3).

Read more How Happiness Happens – Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – The latest on the Emmy Awards: How to win the ‘crown of life’

 

Game of Thrones won for Outstanding Drama Series at last night’s Emmys, making it the most-awarded narrative series in the history of the Emmys. Fleabag won for Outstanding Comedy Series. Jodie Comer and Billy Porter received Outstanding Lead Actress and Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

Here is what I noted: Except for a few minutes watching a late-night talk show here or there, I did not see a single show that was nominated. Not one.

Advice I wish I always followed

Part of the explanation could be that much of popular culture is aimed at people half my age. Another factor is that I have to go to bed early each night to finish this article early the next morning.

But I suspect the largest reason for the disconnect between the 2019 Emmys and my television-watching habits is that Janet and I choose to watch shows that do not dishonor the Lord and his word. I’m not suggesting that every nominated show fails this standard, but many do.

Scripture calls us to “be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). In that light, we should heed the warning of the eighteenth-century scientist G. C. Lichtenberg: “Never undertake anything for which you wouldn’t have the courage to ask the blessing of heaven.”

I wish I could tell you that I always follow his advice. But I do recognize the truth of his assertion.

“The euthanasia of Christianity”

The popularity of television shows that contradict the biblical worldview reveals that many people do not realize there is a biblical worldview.

God’s word speaks to every dimension of every moment of life, not just our Sunday worship or Monday prayers. Abraham Kuyper was right: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

Continue reading Denison Forum – The latest on the Emmy Awards: How to win the ‘crown of life’