Charles Stanley – Differing Convictions

 

1 Corinthians 8

Although eating meat offered to idols is not a controversial subject today, 1 Corinthians 8 could cause us to wonder if God has double standards for Christian behavior. How can we reconcile differing convictions among believers?

First, we must acknowledge that some moral truths are evident to everyone. These are fixed and will not change, regardless of the situation. But other convictions are based on knowledge or beliefs. These will vary from person to person.

The conscience isn’t static. Rather, it grows according to the truth one hears and receives. When you first became a Christian, you probably had no hesitation about activities, thoughts, or attitudes that you now consider unacceptable. As your knowledge of God and His Word has grown, so has your conscience. Since we all mature at different rates, each person’s conscience is based upon his or her own understanding and personal weaknesses. In these variable areas, what is wrong for one believer may be acceptable for another.

So how are we to live with those whose convictions may not match ours? We must first realize that it is not our job to convict or judge them. The Holy Spirit guides each believer in the way he or she should go.

What a marvelous display of God’s love for us. He designs a path for each life and gives a conscience with sensitivity based upon His intimate knowledge of that individual. Our job is to grow in truth, listen for His personalized direction, and support fellow believers in their walk.

Bible in One Year: John 12-13

 

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Our Daily Bread — Do the Next Thing

 

Bible in a Year:

If you love me, keep my commands.

John 14:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 14:15–21

When was the last time you felt compelled to help someone, only to let the moment pass without a response? In The 10-Second Rule, Clare De Graaf suggests that daily impressions can be one of the ways God calls us to a deeper spiritual walk, a life of obedience prompted by love for Him. The 10-Second Rule encourages you to simply “do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do,” and to do it right away “before you change your mind.”

Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We might think, I do love Him, but how can I be certain of His will and follow it? In His wisdom, Jesus has provided what we need to better understand and follow the wisdom found in the Bible. He once said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and will be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (vv. 16–17). It’s by the work of the Spirit, who is with us and in us, that we can learn to obey Jesus and “keep [His] commands” (v. 15)—responding to the promptings experienced throughout our day (v. 17).

In the big and little things, the Spirit motivates us to confidently do by faith what will honor God and reveal our love for Him and others (v. 21).

By: Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important for you to follow through on promptings that line up with Scripture? How can you seek to live a more obedient life by the power of the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit provides what we need to follow Jesus in obedience.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Vapor and Mist

 

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.(1)

One of my most cherished memories is of the New England landscape in the fall. The vibrant colors from dogwood, sassafras, sumac, red oak, and maples can only be described as the finest artist’s palette of paints—crimsons and scarlets, purples, oranges and yellows splashed across the canvas. Making our pilgrimage each year to the local fair, the route transported my husband and me into that world of color, as the road would bend through picturesque towns and take us deeper and deeper into that fall canvas. Sadly, this beauty was transient. Fall rains and wind would come to fade and to muddle those colors. All that would remain were the dull browns melding and making their home in the dark soil that encompassed them.

Nothing gold can stay is the bittersweet reality Robert Frost calls to mind in his poem by the same name. The beauty of the yellow birch leaves, like the young flower of springtime fades and falls away. Frost laments all those moments of precious and profound beauty that are equally fleeting and transient. These experiences are the hardest hues to hold. Just like the fading vibrancy of the New England fall, our very lives and all we experience quickly pass before us in the blink of an eye.

The ephemeral nature of life is opined by artists and poets, philosophers and clerics around the world. Many of the world’s great religious traditions address the ephemeral nature of life. Buddhism identifies, for example, how suffering arises as a result of trying to hold onto the impermanent and the fleeting.(2) In Tibetan Buddhism, specifically, mandalas made from colored sand are created and dismantled in a ritual that symbolizes the transitory nature of material life. Likewise in Hinduism, cremation became a vehicle for expressing the ephemerality of bodily life.(3) The ancient Hebrew poets filled their stanzas with the acknowledgement that life is fleeting, short and temporary: “Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.”(4) And springing out of the Hebrew tradition, Christianity reiterates this theme: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”(5)

For many living in light of such realities today, the temptation is to try to hold onto whatever we think will anchor us to permanence. Or else, it is to abandon ourselves to eating, drinking, and being merry because tomorrow we die. But is there another way?

Christians believe in a God who entered into the ephemeral and the temporal in the person of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus affirmed the teaching of his own Hebraic tradition when he encourages his listeners not to worry, but to trust the God who “arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace.” Life is short, Jesus acknowledges, but the God who cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field will care for us. So we do not have to cling onto our lives or the treasures of this earth. As one commentator notes, “Just prior to his teaching on worrying…Jesus warns his listeners against storing up ephemeral treasure on earth… A central theme of his ministry and enacted in his own life, is that the proper way to respond to the nature of reality is to give away one’s life rather than hold on to it, to open our hands and let things go rather than to close our fist around them.”(6)

In embracing all that is ephemeral about life, Jesus opens and offers his life for others. In fact, Jesus extends an ironic invitation to accept ephemerality and death in order to truly find life—and to find life eternal. Not as simply an escape from death, but the eternal life that comes from a relationship with God in the here and now. Jesus prays for those who would follow him, “that they may know you the only true God” for in doing so they would find eternal life.(7) The challenge Jesus sets before those who would follow is the challenge to “die” to holding on; it is to choose—in this life where nothing gold can stay—what makes for life eternal.

 

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

 

(1) Robert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” from The Poetry of Robert Frost ed. by Edward Connery Lathem (New York: Henry Holt Publishers, 1969).
(2) The Norton Anthology of World Religions, “Buddhism.” Ed. Jack Miles (New York: Norton, 2015).
(3) Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, “Cremation,” Ed. Robert Kastenbaum (New York: Macmillan Reference, 2003).
(4) Psalm 90:5-6.
(5) James 4:14.
(6) Iain Provan, The NIV Application Commentary Series: Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, 2001), 60.
(7) John 17:3.

 

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Joyce Meyer – When You Are Dealing with Pain

 

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief …. — Isaiah 53:3

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

If you are in pain of any kind, Jesus knows how you feel! Always remember that all healing comes from Jesus. He is our compassionate Healer. He may work through some type of medical care, but He and He alone is the Source of healing!

Even though we seek professional help when we are sick or in pain, we should keep our eyes on Jesus to make us whole, and when we are well again, be sure to give Him the praise. Thank God in the midst of trouble, and trust and thank Him that His healing power is working in you. God’s Word says to thank Him at all times, in all things (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18). You may not be thankful for your pain and discomfort, but you can be thankful that God is with you and that He will cause all things to work together for your good as you continue loving Him and doing His will (see Romans 8:28).

When you are sick, it is an especially good time to pray for others you may know who are sick. During our own pain, we tend to have greater compassion for others who are also hurting. Prayer is sowing seed into the lives of others, and seed always produces a harvest. So, keep on trusting God and expect to get better and better every day!

Prayer Starter: Father, I ask You to heal me from all sickness, pain, and disease. I trust You to be my healer and I give You praise for my restoration. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Can Trust Him

 

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to” (Matthew 6:31-33).

As a young businessman, I was strongly attracted to the material things of the world and worked very hard to achieve success. But when I became a Christian, I could not ignore the logic of Christ’s command, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, KJV).

I made my commitment to obey His command. Since that day so many years ago, I have sought to be obedient to that command. The Lord has graciously and abundantly blessed me with the fulfillment of the promise of His supernatural provision which follows:

“Your heavenly father already knows perfectly well (the things you need), and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to.”

God is trustworthy, and the obedient, faithful Christian soon learns that he, like the psalmist of old, can proclaim:

“I have never seen the Lord forsake a man who loves Him, nor have I seen the children of the godly go hungry” (Psalm 37:25).

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:25-30

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Resting on the absolute certainties of the Word of God, I will refuse to worry about anything today (recognizing that concern involves others, while worry involves only myself). “All things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28). “My God shall supply all your need…” (Philippians 4:19). By trusting these and other promises from God’s word, I have no reason to worry

 

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Max Lucado – Some Prayer Guidance

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When I pray, I think of a thousand things I need to do.  I forget the one thing I set out to do: pray! Can you relate?

But wouldn’t we all like to pray. . .More?  Better?  Deeper?  Stronger?  With more fire, faith, or fervency?  Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. We want to pray, but when? We want to pray, but why?  We have our doubts about prayer, our checkered history of unmet expectations, unanswered questions.

We aren’t the first.  The sign-up for Prayer 101 contains familiar names:  John, James, Andrew, and Peter.  The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance.

Here’s my challenge for you!  Every day for four weeks, pray four minutes.  Then get ready to connect with God like never before.

 

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Will new adoption rule ‘discriminate’ against LGBTQ people? The best way to prepare for the future

 

Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule that would end discrimination against Catholics and evangelical Protestants in adoption services.

Regulations put in place at the end of the Obama administration bar organizations that believe marriage is between a man and a woman from federal child-welfare programs. The new rule would allow such ministries to place children for adoption without violating their religious beliefs.

Of course, this is not how many in the media are reporting the news.

Who are the true victims of “discrimination”?

CBS News leads its coverage: “The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would allow faith-based adoption and foster organizations to deny their services to LGBTQ couples.” CNN casts the rule in a similar anti-LGBTQ light.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that gives the rest of the story. Dr. Moore notes: “This is not a narrowing rule that excludes gay people and others from serving children. Instead, the regulation merely ensures that no one is kept from serving, while ending an attempt to stop religious organizations from doing so consistent with their convictions.”

It’s hard for me to see how the new rule discriminates against LGBTQ couples who wish to adopt since the religious organizations it would permit to offer such services are presently excluded from doing so. In other words, LGBTQ couples would not be less able to adopt now than they were previously.

Coverage focusing on LGBTQ “discrimination” overlooks discrimination against those whose religious beliefs lead them to view marriage biblically. And it overlooks the real winners here: the children.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Will new adoption rule ‘discriminate’ against LGBTQ people? The best way to prepare for the future