Charles Stanley – A Glimpse of Heavenly Praise

 

Revelation 4

When you sing praises to God, do you consider what you are saying? So often words like majestic, holy, glorious, and righteous roll off the tongue with barely a thought, yet these are terms that describe the very God we worship.

That’s why it is helpful for us to enter with the apostle John into the heavenly throne room to see the majesty of the Lord whom we are exalting—the God worthy to receive all praise, glory, and honor. Within the limits of finite human language and understanding, John did his best to describe what he saw: a throne and the stunning radiance of the One sitting upon it.

Other participants in this scene are 24 elders representing redeemed humanity, and four living creatures who continually give glory, honor, and thanks to God, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8). In response, the elders fall down and worship, casting their crowns before God’s throne. The entire realm of heaven is enthralled with this One who is worthy of all worship.

Although we cannot actually see this scene like John, our worship should share its sentiment. This means our praise must be focused on the heavenly Father, who is infinitely greater than all His creatures and transcendent over time and creation. We can draw close to such magnificent worship when, after spending time studying and meditating on the Scriptures, our perceptions of the Lord are accurate. Sound theology results in worship that exalts and honors God for who He truly is.

Bible in One Year: John 17-19

 

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Our Daily Bread — “Love You—Whole World”

 

Bible in a Year:

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 John 4:7–19

My three-year old niece, Jenna, has an expression that never fails to melt my heart. When she loves something (really loves it), be it banana cream pie, jumping on the trampoline, or playing Frisbee, she’ll proclaim, “I love it—whole world!” (“whole world” accompanied with a dramatic sweep of her arms).

Sometimes I wonder, When’s the last time I’ve dared to love like that? With nothing held back, completely unafraid?

“God is love,” John wrote repeatedly (1 John 4:8, 16), perhaps because the truth that God’s love—not our anger, fear, or shame—is the deepest foundation of reality, is hard for us grown-ups to “get.” The world divides us into camps based on what we’re most afraid of—and all too often we join in, ignoring or villainizing the voices that challenge our preferred vision of reality.

Yet amid the deception and power struggles (vv. 5–6), the truth of God’s love remains, a light that shines in the darkness, inviting us to learn the path of humility, trust, and love (1:7–9; 3:18). For no matter what painful truths the light uncovers, we can know that we’ll still be loved (4:10, 18; Romans 8:1).

When Jenna leans over and whispers to me, “I love you—whole world!” I whisper back, “I love you whole world!” And I’m grateful for a gentle reminder that every moment I’m held in limitless love and grace.

By: Monica Brands

Reflect & Pray

When do you find yourself feeling pressured to believe fear is greater than love? How might your relationships with others change if you believed you don’t need to be afraid?

Loving God, thank You for Your love. Help us to trust in and follow Your light and love even when the way gets dark.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The New Atheism

Though the chorus of voices decrying belief in God has been humming in the ideological background for centuries, it seems to have reached a crescendo with the emergence of a movement that has been dubbed the new atheism. The trademark of this new and continuing brand of atheism is its vitriolic attack on religion. To its advocates, religious beliefs are not only false; they are also dangerous and must be expunged from all corners of society. The pundits of the new atheism are not content to nail discussion theses on the door of religion; they are also busy delivering eviction notices to the allegedly atavistic elements of an otherwise seamlessly progressive atheistic evolution of Homo Sapiens.

Given the rhetoric, one might be forgiven for thinking that some new discoveries have rendered belief in God untenable. Curiously, this drama is unfolding in the same era in which perhaps the world’s leading defender of atheism, Antony Flew, has declared that recent scientific discoveries point to the fact that this world cannot be understood apart from the work of God as its Creator. This is no small matter, for Flew has been preaching atheism for as long as Billy Graham has been preaching the Gospel. Unlike Flew and others, the new atheists seem to forget that the success of their mission hinges solely on the strength and veracity of the reasons they give for repudiating religion. Venom and ridicule may carry the day in an age of sensationalistic sound bites, but false beliefs will eventually bounce off the hard, cold, unyielding wall of reality.

A good example of a claim against religion that does not sit well with the facts of reality is issued in the form of a challenge to the believer to “name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.”(1) We are expected to agree that no such action or statement exists, and then conclude that morality does not depend on God. The problem is that the conclusion does not follow from the premise. The fact that a non-believer can utter moral statements and even act morally does not logically lead to the conclusion that morality does not depend on God, much less that God does not exist. This challenge misunderstands the believer’s position on the relationship between morality and God.

The believer’s claim is that the world owes its existence to a moral God. All human beings are moral agents created in God’s image and are expected to recognize right from wrong because they all reflect God’s moral character. The fact that human beings are the kinds of creatures that can recognize the moral imperatives that are part of the very fabric of the universe argues strongly against naturalism. Unlike the laws of nature, which even inanimate objects obey, moral imperatives appeal to our will and invite us to make real decisions on real moral issues. The only other parallel experience we have of dos and don’ts comes from minds. Thus when the atheist rejects God while insisting on the validity of morality, he is merely rejecting the cause while clinging to the effect.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The New Atheism

Joyce Meyer – Realistic Expectations

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. — 2 Corinthians 12:9

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

How we treat ourselves is often how we treat others. For example, if you receive God’s mercy, then you will be able to give mercy to others, but if you are demanding and never satisfied with yourself, you will be the same way with others.

We need to learn to be good to ourselves and yet not be self-centered. You should respect and value yourself; you should know what you are good at and what you are not good at and realize God’s strength is perfected in your weaknesses. We stress over our faults and yet everyone has them. If you had no faults, you would not need Jesus, and that is never going to happen!

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to have realistic expectations of myself and others, knowing we all have weaknesses and need Your daily support. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Other Savior

 

“There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them” (Acts 4:12).

As a young sceptic, I had difficulty believing in the resurrection, for I could not believe in the supernatural. But as I became aware of the uniqueness of Jesus and of the different quality of life that was His, I was forced to reconsider the biblical claim to His resurrection.

Since it is a matter of historical fact that the tomb in which His dead body was placed was empty three days later, I set out to discover if the tomb could have been empty on any other basis than the biblical claim that He had been raised from the dead. In my research, I learned that there were three different theories explaining the empty tomb.

First, it was proposed that He was not really dead but had fainted from the loss of blood on the cross, and that He recovered in the cool of the tomb (this notion is today expounded by certain skeptics under the name of the “swoon theory”). Second, it was conceivable that Jesus’ body was stolen by His enemies; or third, that it was stolen by the disciples.

Experience and logic have forced me to discount all three of these theories as impossibilities. First, Jesus could never have moved the stone or escaped from the guards in His weakened condition. Second, Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal His body since they did not want to give credence to a belief in His resurrection. Even if they had stolen the body, they could simply have produced it to discount the resurrection.

Third, the disciples who deserted Jesus at His trial and crucifixion were the same men who, having seen Him after His resurrection, spent the rest of their lives telling everyone who would listen, even at the cost of their own lives, that Jesus was alive. Ask yourself this question, “Would the disciples be willing to die as martyrs propagating a lie?”

Christianity alone has a living Savior; in Him alone is salvation.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:9-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Several times today, as the Holy Spirit prompts me, I will remember to thank God for the gift of His Son as my personal Savior and will tell someone else that Jesus is alive and wants to be his Savior, too

 

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Max Lucado – Conversation With God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Mark 1:35 says, “Jesus went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”

This dialogue must have been common among His friends:

Has anyone seen Jesus?

Oh, you know. He’s up to the same thing.

Praying again?

Yep. He’s been gone since sunrise.

Jesus would even disappear for an entire night of prayer. Prayer for most of us, isn’t a matter of a month-long retreat or even an hour of meditation. It’s a conversation with God driving to work, or waiting for an appointment. God will teach you to pray. We speak, He listens. He speaks, we listen. It’s prayer in its purest form. God changes His people through such moments.

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 – The faith of Kanye West: Two biblical responses to celebrity conversions

 

Kanye West is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with more than 140 million records sold. He has been described as a “rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer.”

His latest album, Jesus Is King, debuted at No. 1 on the charts. Every song on the album has appeared on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week as well.

His faith is making as many headlines as his albums.

West launched Sunday Service, a Christian worship group, earlier this year. Its first public performance was on Easter Sunday. At a service this past Friday, more than a thousand people reportedly raised their hands to commit their lives to Christ. A pastor who attended the service called it a “new wave of revival.”

West explained the purpose behind Jesus Is King: “Music is my job. That’s why I’m putting out the album. Serving God in everything that I can do is my job. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m on the planet is to be in service and in fear, love, and service to God.”

“He’s in the Bible. He’s in prayer.”

West has struggled with mental health issues over the years, at one point telling David Letterman that he has bipolar disorder. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, told The View that her husband’s new album was instrumental in his becoming a Christian.

“Kanye started this to really heal himself and it was a really personal thing, and it was just friends and family,” she said. “He has had an amazing evolution of being born again and being saved by Christ.” He has reportedly announced that he will only make gospel music going forward.

Criticism has been swift and sharp.

Referring to the financial contributions West is making to Sunday Service, Rolling Stone calls his new album “a megachurch masquerading as a 12-song tax-shelter bar bonanza.” An article in the New Yorker headlined: “Kanye West’s Sunday Service Is Full of Longing and Self-Promotion.” Another writer called the service “a private affair that looks more like a celebrity cult.”

However, the pastor who is traveling with West and speaking at Sunday Service meetings says Kanye West’s new faith is genuine. According to Adam Tyson, West is “living and walking with God.” The pastor has seen noticeable changes in the rapper’s life: “He’s in the Bible. He’s in prayer.”

When Tyson shared the gospel with West at their first meeting, the artist responded: “I’ve been radically saved. I believe that message and I want to get that message out to the world.”

“People want to see him fail at Christianity”

Our first biblical responsibility to Kanye West and other celebrities who come to Christ is to pray for them. Paul wrote: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–2). We are required to pray for each other and for those in positions of cultural influence.

Actress Patricia Heaton, an outspoken Christian, says she is praying for Kanye West because she believes people want to see him fail in his new faith. “It’s very hard,” she explains. “I think when someone of his stature in the industry and someone who has his amount of fame makes that kind of proclamation, people then really watch and scrutinize everything he does to catch him falling down.” She warned that “people want to see him fail at Christianity.”

Writing for Faithwire, Tré Goins-Phillips offers these suggestions as we pray for and encourage celebrity Christians: don’t expect instantaneous maturity; don’t anticipate perfection; stop idolizing fame; allow for missteps; and be understanding and trust God.

“Don’t be like the prodigal son’s brother”

Our second biblical responsibility to celebrity converts is to serve them by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Pastor Hans Fiene notes that “Christians shouldn’t be afraid of getting burned by Kanye West because our faith isn’t rooted in the fidelity of Christians but the faithfulness of Christ.” As a result, he counsels us, “Don’t be like the prodigal son’s brother.”

The pastor explains: “God has not called you to be Kanye West’s faith auditor. He’s called you to be Kanye West’s brother. So instead of trying to keep him outside the feast of salvation until he’s proven himself worthy, rejoice to enter with him into the feast where all formerly unworthy sinners are invited to eat and drink the worthiness of Jesus Christ.”

As “formerly unworthy sinners,” we are called to help each other live biblically and redemptively: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1a). But we are also to “keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (v. 1b).

In short, we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2).

“Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation”

I cannot determine the genuineness of Kanye West’s faith. Or of yours. Or you of mine.

But I know this: How we treat Kanye West tells the unbelievers we know how we will treat them if they join our faith.

Our Father calls us to pray for each other and help each other follow Jesus. And he calls us to model community that expects the best of one another and encourages one another when we fall short.

Henry Ward Beecher noted that “compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” And it will lead more sinners to the Savior.

Who needs your compassion today?

 

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