Charles Stanley – Comebacks After Setbacks

 

1 John 1:5-9

Whether you have recently become a believer or have followed Christ for many years, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that the Christian life is a series of highs and lows. The truth is, we are never ultimately defeated because Christ overcame sin and death for us on the cross. Yet Scripture still warns us not to yield to the sinful desires of our flesh, conform to this world’s evil system, or fall for the schemes and lies of the devil.

Since we are not totally free from the corrupt influences in and around us, the Lord has provided a way for us to come back and be restored. It is called confession, and it involves humbling ourselves, telling God what we have done, and agreeing with Him that it is wrong. Then God promises to forgive and cleanse us so that we might be restored to fellowship with Him (1 John 1:9). The good news is that we are not alone in this battle with sin.

  • We have God’s Holy Spirit, by whom we put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13).
    We have God’s Word, by which we grow in respect to salvation (1 Pet. 2:2).
    We have God’s grace, which instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live righteously (Titus 2:11-12).
    We have God’s promise that He will complete the good work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).

When you sin, think of confession not as a dreaded duty but as a gracious gift of God. Take advantage of this privilege without shame, knowing that restoration is on the other side.

Bible in One Year: Acts 27-28

 

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Our Daily Bread — Beautifully Burdened

 

Bible in a Year:

My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:30

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 11:28–30

I awoke to pitch darkness. I hadn’t slept more than thirty minutes and my heart sensed that sleep wouldn’t return soon. A friend’s husband lay in the hospital, having received the dreaded news, “The cancer is back—in the brain and spine now.” My whole being hurt for my friends. What a heavy load! And yet, somehow my spirit was lifted through my sacred vigil of prayer. You might say I felt beautifully burdened for them. How could this be?

In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus promises rest for our weary souls. Strangely, His rest comes as we bend under His yoke and embrace His burden. He clarifies in verse 30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we allow Jesus to lift our burden from our backs and then tether ourselves to Jesus’s yoke, we become harnessed with Him, in step with Him and all He allows. When we bend under His burden, we share in His sufferings, which ultimately allows us to share in His comfort as well (2 Corinthians 1:5).

My concern for my friends was a heavy burden. Yet I felt grateful that God would allow me to carry them in prayer. Gradually I ebbed back to sleep and awoke—still beautifully burdened but now under the easy yoke and light load of walking with Jesus.

By: Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What are you carrying today? How will you give that burden to Jesus?

Dear Jesus, please take my heavy load and lay upon me Your beautiful burden for this world.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Different Category

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is a familiar story for many. In fact, some of us are so familiar with it that we might even fail to see the rich contours of grace presented in its narrative. Familiarity with the story assumes its central figure to be a son who leads a wasteful and extravagant life. But a careful reading presents the multi-faceted contours of God’s extravagant display of grace towards all wayward sons and daughters.

Jesus presents this story as a crowd of tax-collectors, sinners, and religious leaders gathers around him. “A certain man had two sons,” Jesus begins. The younger of the man’s two sons insists on having his share of the inheritance, which the father grants though the request violated the Jewish custom that allotted upon the death of the father a third of the inheritance to the youngest son.(1) With wasteful extravagance, the son squanders this inheritance and finds himself desperately poor, living among pigs, ravenous for the pods on which they feed. “But when he came to his senses” the text tells us, he reasons that even his father’s hired men have plenty to eat. Hoping to be accepted as a mere slave, he makes his way home. “And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him” (Luke 15:20).

This statement reveals the first contour of God’s grace—it is a prodigal, or wastefully extravagant, grace. The prodigal nature of the father’s grace compels him to keep looking for his son—he saw him while he was still a long way off. And despite being disowned by his son, the father feels compassion for him. With wasteful abandon, the father picks up his long garments, exposing his legs and customarily shaming himself, and runs to his son to embrace him and welcome him home. The father orders a grand party for this son who has been found, “who was dead and has begun to live,” brought to life by the rich, prodigal grace, both unexpected and undeserved.

But the prodigal nature of the father’s grace is also a disruptive grace, offending any sense of fairness or justice. It seems unjust, for example, that such an extravagant party was thrown for such a reckless, rebellious son. It seems equally unjust that the dutiful, older brother was not celebrated in the same way as his wayward, younger sibling. Clearly, the prodigal nature of the father’s grace disrupts because of how it is given—prodigally and seemingly wastefully.

The older brother in Jesus’s story provocatively gives voice to this sense of outrage.(2) The text tells us that “he was not willing to go into the celebration. The older brother does not understand why his duty has not been similarly rewarded. For so many years, I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots; you killed the fattened calf for him(Luke 15:29-30). We can hear the implicit cry, “It’s not fair!” Not only is he angry because he thinks he has not been treated fairly, but he is also angry over how the father demonstrates grace towards his younger brother. Yet, the older brother fails to hear the entreaty of his gracious father both to come in to the celebration and to recognize that “all that is mine is yours.” The grace that is given freely and lavishly towards sinners is the same grace given to those who do not see their need for it and take that grace for granted.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Different Category

Joyce Meyer – Prayer as the First Option, Not the Last Resort

 

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. — Matthew 7:8

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

One day I woke up with a throbbing headache. I walked around with that miserable headache almost all day, telling everybody I met about how terrible I felt—until I finally realized that I had complained most of the day and had never taken the time to simply pray and ask God to take the pain away.

Unfortunately, that response is rather typical for some of us. We complain about our problems and spend a majority of our time trying to figure out what we can do to solve them. We often do everything except the one thing we are told to do in the Word of God: ask, that we may receive and our joy may be full (see John 16:24).

Thankfully, God wants to provide for our every need. We have the awesome privilege of “asking and receiving,” and we should always pray as a first response to every situation.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that I can bring every single need to You. Help me to always view prayer as my first option, knowing You delight in taking care of me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Able to Keep Promises

 

“He was completely sure that God was well able to do anything He promised” (Romans 4:21).

Occasionally, I hear people say, “Bill Bright is a man of great faith.” The statement is made because our ministry is involved with millions of Christians from many thousands of churches of all denominations and other Christian organizations in gargantuan undertakings – massive worldwide programs of evangelism and discipleship in which we have, by faith, trusted God for the salvation of at least one billion additional souls for Christ and His kingdom.

As a new Christian, I trusted God for one soul, then six, then ten souls; then hundreds, thousands, millions. And now, after more than 35 years of witnessing His mighty, miraculous power and blessing in response to faith, I am praying and believing God for a billion souls for Christ by the year 2000.

These goals are not built on careless presumptions or figures plucked out of the air in some kind of mystical, emotional, spiritual experience, but they are based upon my confidence in the sovereignty, holiness, love, wisdom, power and grace of the omnipotent God whom I serve and upon His gracious blessings on past efforts that have been undertaken for His glory and praise. No credit should be given to me or to the ministry of which I am a part, but only to the one in whom I place my faith.

Faith must have an object, and the object of my faith is God and His inspired Word. The right view of God generates faith. Faith is like a muscle; it grows with exercise. The more we see God accomplish in and through our lives, the more we can be assured that He will accomplish as we trust and obey Him more.

Bible Reading: Romans 4:13-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will place my faith in God alone – not in myself or in other men’s efforts or abilities – and I will encourage others to trust God, too

 

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Max Lucado – Approach God As a Beloved Child

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus invites us to approach God the way a child approaches his or her daddy!  And how do children approach their daddies?

When a five-year-old spots his father in the parking lot, how does he react?  “Yippee!” was screamed by a redheaded boy wearing a Batman backpack.  “Pop!”  Over here!  Push me!”—yelled a boy wearing a Boston Red Sox cap who scooted straight to the swings.

Here’s what I didn’t hear:  “Father, it is most gracious of thee to drive thy car to my place of education. Please know of my deep gratitude for your benevolence.  For thou art splendid in thy attentive care and diligent in thy dedication.”

I heard kids who were happy to see their dad and eager to speak to him!  God invites us to approach Him in the same manner. What a relief!

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – New York State prevents churches from making employment decisions based on pro-life commitments: Answering God’s call to courage

Imagine a day when your church cannot refuse to hire a person to lead your congregation’s ministry for expectant mothers on the basis of that person’s pro-choice agenda.

Or a day when a staff member at your church cannot be disciplined for encouraging others to have an abortion.

If your church is in New York State, that day has come.

Why Senate Bill 660 is so important

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill 660 recently. It specifies that an employer shall not “discriminate nor take any retaliatory personnel action” against employees with respect to their beliefs and choices regarding abortion. The bill makes no exceptions for religious organizations.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) states that the bill “requires all employers—including churches, religious schools, faith-based pregnancy care centers, and religious nonprofits—to disavow their beliefs about abortion, contraception, and sexual morality by forcing them to hire and employ those who refuse to abide by the organizations’ statements of faith.”

As a result, faith-based hospitals in New York State cannot require future or existing employees to abide by their pro-life commitments. Nor can faith-based schools or businesses. Nor can churches.

Two versions of “discrimination”

What do we do when two versions of “discrimination” collide?

Pro-choice advocates believe that pro-life employers discriminate against them by refusing to hire pro-choice employees. They ask you to imagine being told by a pro-life CEO that you cannot work at his engineering firm because you believe abortion should be the decision of the mother rather than the government.

By contrast, pro-life advocates believe that the State of New York discriminates against pro-life employers by forcing them to consider candidates who reject the employer’s commitment to life. They ask you to imagine being the CEO of a Baptist hospital who must hire a pro-choice advocate to lead your pregnancy center.

The logic of the pro-choice position

Each side in this culture war is convinced that its logic should prevail.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court declared that it “need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins,” claiming that “the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” The Court therefore chose to give the mother whose body supports the fetus the right to decide whether or not to abort that fetus.

Such logic extends to the claim that pro-choice advocates are not forcing anyone to choose an abortion. Rather, they say they are working to preserve the mother’s “reproductive rights.” They believe that she, not the government, is in the best position to make such a determination.

Over the years, I’ve heard from people who say they are personally opposed to abortion but do not believe it is the government’s right to make this decision for others. They would say they are “pro-choice” but not “pro-abortion.”

The logic of the pro-life position

By contrast, pro-life advocates are convinced that life begins at conception. We cite clear biblical teachings as well as strong scientific evidence for the humanity of the so-called fetus in his or her mother’s womb.

We agree with the American Declaration of Independence that every person possesses “unalienable rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We therefore believe that the mother’s right to choose should not take precedence over her child’s right to live.

While pro-choice advocates claim that such a position discriminates against the mother, we counter that their position discriminates against the child. The mother may be required to bring a child to term, enduring several months of significant challenges in the process, but her child will then have an entire life to live. If she aborts her child, ending the challenges posed by her temporary pregnancy, her decision is obviously permanent for her child.

And we note that when a child is born, it simply moves from inside his or her mother’s body to outside of it. In New York State, that child can be aborted just moments before his or her birth. By what logic is the intrinsic nature of a baby different when it shifts location?

“Be strong and courageous”

I have taken us down this road today to make a point: Despite the logic of the pro-life position, which I consider to be far superior to that of pro-choice advocates, our society is reaching a tipping point with regard to religious freedom on this issue. If current trends continue, Christians will pay an escalatingly high price for affirming biblical morality on abortion. We are facing similar pressure on LGBTQ issues and euthanasia.

I plan to focus tomorrow on practical ways we can respond biblically to such pressure. For today, let’s decide that we want to.

As Joshua prepared to lead God’s people into an uncharted land and future, the Lord said to him: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Note that this word came to Joshua before he began facing Canaanite enemies. The Lord called him to choose courage before he needed courage.

This is because courage does not earn the provision of God—it positions us to receive it. If we will not go into battle, we cannot experience the presence and power of God in the battle.

Is there any price you won’t pay to follow Jesus?

NOTE: Due to requests for print-friendly, text-only versions of The Daily Article, we will now include a link to a downloadable PDF of every Daily Article. Please feel free to save and print these, then share them with your friends, family, church, or community. Today’s Daily Article may be downloaded here, but note the “Download PDF” link below, which is where you may download future Daily Articles.

 

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