Charles Stanley – Too Sinful to Save?

 

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Sometimes people avoid Christ’s offer of salvation because they feel they’ve messed up so badly that their sins are unforgivable. Perhaps that’s how John Newton, a former slave trader, felt before he experienced God’s mercy and penned this line from his famous hymn: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”

The apostle Paul had similar feelings—he saw himself as the foremost of sinners. But that didn’t stop him from believing in Jesus as his Savior and Lord. In fact, as he looked back at the wonderful display of divine grace in his life, Paul recognized he was being used as an example of how far God’s grace can reach.

Jesus came to save sinners. So if you are a sinner, His grace is available to you for salvation. In other words, if Paul’s and John Newton’s sins were forgivable, so are yours. In fact, those who regard themselves as wretches are in a better position than many who consider themselves good and think a Savior is unnecessary. God’s grace comes to those who acknowledge their sin and see the need for salvation.

No matter how vast your sins, God’s grace is greater. The truth is, all human beings are wretches because no one can be good enough to earn acceptance by a holy God. You can either be condemned in your sins or turn to Christ, whose blood paid your penalty for sin so you could receive a full pardon. If you accept His gracious salvation, God may even use your past as a witness so that other sinners can be saved.

Bible in One Year: Romans 10-13

 

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Special Treasure

 

Bible in a Year:

But you are . . . God’s special possession.

1 Peter 2:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Peter 2:4–10

Imagine a vast throne room. Seated on the throne is a great king. He’s surrounded by all manner of attendants, each on their best behavior. Now imagine a box that sits at the king’s feet. From time to time the king reaches down and runs his hands through the contents. And what’s in the box? Jewels, gold, and gemstones particular to the king’s tastes. This box holds the king’s treasures, a collection that brings him great joy. Can you see that image in your mind’s eye?

The Hebrew word for this treasure is segulah, and it means “special possession.” That word is found in such Old Testament Scriptures as Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, and Psalm 135:4, where it refers to the nation of Israel. But that same word picture shows up in the New Testament by way of the pen of Peter the apostle. He’s describing the “people of God,” those who “have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10), a collection now beyond the nation of Israel. In other words, he’s talking about those who believe in Jesus, both Jew and gentile. And he writes “But you are . . . God’s special possession” (v. 9).

Imagine that! The great and powerful King of heaven considers you among His special treasures. He has rescued you from the grip of sin and death. He claims you as His own. The King’s voice says, “This one I love. This one is mine.”

By: John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Can you recall a time when someone genuinely called you “special”? What effect did it have on you? What does it mean for you to know that you’re precious to God?

High King of heaven, my identity is found entirely in You, and You call me Your special treasure. I know this isn’t because of anything I’ve done, but because of everything You are.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Re-imagining Life

“I shut my eyes in order to see,” said French painter, sculptor, and artist Paul Gauguin. As a little girl, though completely unaware of this insightful quote on imagination, I lived this maxim. Nothing was more exhilarating to me than closing my eyes in order to imagine far away exotic lands, a handsome prince, or a deep enough hole that would take me straight to China!

In fact, like many, imagination fueled my young heart and mind. After reading C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, I would walk into dark closets filled with warm winter coats fully expecting to be transported like the Pevensie children into strange, new worlds. Charlotte’s Web took me to a farm where I could talk to animals, like Fern to her pet pig Wilbur or to the spiders that hung from intricate webs in my garage. Pictures on the wall came to life and danced before me; ordinary objects became extraordinary tools enabling me to defeat all those imaginary giants and inspiring me toward endless possibility.

Sadly, as happens to many adults, my imagination has changed. I don’t often view my closet as a doorway to unseen worlds, nor do I pretend that my dogs understand one word of my verbal affection towards them. Pictures don’t come to life and I no longer pretend my garden rake or broom is a secret weapon against fantastical foes. Often, I feel that my imagination has become nothing more than wishful thinking. Rather than thinking creatively about the life I’ve been given, I daydream about what my life might be like if I lived in Holland, for example, or could backpack across Europe, or lived on a kibbutz, or was a famous actress, or a world-renowned tennis player, or any number of alternative lives to the one I currently occupy.

Sadly, the imagination so vital in my youth doesn’t usually infuse my life with creative possibility, but rather leads me only to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Mid-life regrets reduce imagination to restlessness and shrivel creative thinking to nothing more than unsettled daydreams. Rather than allowing my imagination to be animated by living into my creativity, I allow it to be tethered to worldly dreams of more, or better, or simply other. Like so many others, the all too familiar experience of unrealized dreams withers my imagination and feeds a world-weary cynicism.

The psalmist was not in a mid-life imaginative crisis when he penned Psalm 90. Nevertheless, this psalm attributed to Moses was a prayer to the God who can redeem imagination for our one life to live. Perhaps Moses wrote this psalm after an endless day of complaint from wilderness-weary Israelites. Perhaps it was written with regret that his violent outburst against the rock would bar him from entry into the Promised Land. Whatever event prompted its writing, it is a song sung in a minor key, with regret so great he feels consumed by God’s anger and dismayed by God’s wrath.(1)

Whether prompted by deep regret, disillusionment, or a creeping cynicism about reality, Moses reflects on the brevity of life. He compares it to the grass “which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes; toward evening it fades and withers away.”(2) Indeed, he concedes that a thousand years in God’s sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night. Before we know it, the psalmist concedes, our lives are past and what do we have to show for them? Have we lived creatively? Have we used our imagination to infuse our fleeting, one-and-only lives to bring forth anything that may offer beauty and blessing?

Imagination, like any other gift, has the potential for good or for ill. It has power to fill my one and only life with creative possibility, or it can become nothing more than wishful thinking, or nostalgia. As the psalmist laments, “All our days have declined…we have finished our years like a sigh.”

But imagination built upon a foundation of gratitude invites us to live our lives with hope and with possibility to imagine great things for our God-given lives. “So teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom” reminds all of the brevity of life and the importance of bringing that reality to the forefront of our imagination. Perhaps as we do, we might imagine ways to fill those brief days with possibility and wonder.

 

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

 

(1) Psalm 90:7-8.
(2) Psalm 90:6.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Run Your Race

 

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. — Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

If we are going to run our race in life, if we want to fulfill our destiny and do God’s will, it is important that we lay aside every weight and sin and run the race with patience.

In the days this verse was written, runners conditioned their bodies for a race just as we do today. But at the time of the race, they stripped off their clothing except for a loincloth, so that when they ran there would be nothing to hinder them. They also oiled their bodies with fine oils.

In our Christian life, we are called to remove anything that hinders us from running the race that God has set before us. It is essential to be well oiled, or anointed, with the Holy Spirit (often symbolized by oil) if we are going to win our race.

Our enemy, Satan, has many ways to entangle us and prevent us from living in obedience to God’s Word, developing an intimate relationship with Him. There are many distractions and requirements on our time. But with God’s guidance, we can strip away the things that will hinder us. Keep your eyes on your goal and learn to say no to things that distract you and keep you from fulfilling your full potential.

Be determined that nothing is going to hinder you from fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for your life.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to run my race and fulfill the plan You have for my life. Help me not to be distracted by anything that will take my focus away from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Protects Us

 

“You don’t need to be afraid of the dark any more, nor fear the dangers of the day… For the Lord says, ‘Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name.’ ” (Psalm 91:5,14).

“Ladies and gentlemen, we should be out of the storm in a few moments…” The calm voice over the intercom was hardly reassuring as our Pam Am 707 pierced the fury of a storm during our flight from New York to Washington, D.C. Lightning flashed as the aircraft bounced and shuddered in the turbulence.

I gripped Vonette’s hand. “I don’t know how much longer the plane can endure this storm without breaking into pieces.”

She nodded gravely.

The 707 began to twist — first to the right, then to the left. Its wings flapped like those of a giant bird struggling against a violent downdraft. Vonette and I began praying. Convinced that our aircraft could not survive the turbulence much longer, I tenderly said goodbye to Vonette and she to me. We told our wonderful Lord that we were ready to meet Him.

Then I remembered how the Lord Jesus had calmed the winds when His disciples feared that their boat would capsize during another violent storm. If it was His will, He would protect us, too. I prayed aloud, “Lord, You control the laws of nature. You quieted the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Please quiet this storm.”

In a very short time, the rain and turbulence stopped. Amazed and thankful, Vonette and I praised God for protecting us.

Hours later, the pilot landed the plane at a freight terminal in Norvolk. The flight that should have taken sixty-five minutes had lasted four hours and taken us far from our destination. Lightning had knocked a huge hole in the fuselage near the cockpit, destroying all the radar equipment. The pilot said this was the most violent storm he had ever experienced. But God was more powerful than the storm!

God promises to protect and rescue those who trust Him. What peace and joy this gives us as we turn over the difficult circumstances in our lives to Him!

Bible Reading: Psalm 91

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With God’s help, I will claim His promise to protect me and will not be afraid of danger

 

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Max Lucado – Our God Cannot Be Contained

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Most people have small thoughts about God.  In an effort to see God as our friend, we have lost his immensity.  In our desire to understand him, we have sought to contain him.

The God of the Bible cannot be contained.  With a word he called Adam out of dust and Eve out of a bone.  He consulted no committee.  He sought no counsel.  He has authority over the world and…He has authority over your world.  He’s never surprised.  He has never, ever uttered the phrase, “How did that happen?”

God’s goodness is a major headline in the Bible.  If he were only mighty, we’d salute Him.  But since he is merciful and mighty, we can approach him.  If God is at once Father and Creator, holy—unlike us—and high above us, then we at any point are only a prayer away from help!

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’: Why emulating Fred Rogers is so compelling today

My wife and I saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on Friday. This morning, I’d like to explain why you must see this film. And why emulating Fred Rogers’ ministry is so needed for our world and our souls.

“The great enigma of modern American media”

The movie is based loosely on the relationship between Fred Rogers and an Esquire reporter named Tom Junod who was sent in 1998 to interview him. Since I strongly urge you to see the film, I won’t tell you more about their relationship except to say that it tells a story familiar to anyone who knew Fred Rogers in person.

Here’s just one example: Junod writes about a boy in California with cerebral palsy who was so depressed that he talked about wanting to die. However, he loved watching Mister Rogers on television.

A foundation designed to help disabled children brought Fred Rogers to meet him. They talked, then Mister Rogers said, “I would like you to do something for me. Would you do something for me?” The boy said he would.

Mister Rogers then said, “I would like you to pray for me. Will you pray for me?” He later explained to Junod: “I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God.”

According to Junod, “Ever since then [the boy] keeps Mister Rogers in his prayers and doesn’t talk about wanting to die anymore, because he figures Mister Rogers is close to God, and if Mister Rogers likes him, that must mean God likes him, too.”

One movie reviewer said of the film: “Nearly two decades after his death, Rogers remains the great enigma of modern American media, an unassailable object of good intentions whose influence spanned generations.” In a culture as broken as ours, such a person is indeed an “enigma.”

“Broadcasting grace through the land”

Fred Rogers was a music major in college with plans to attend seminary upon graduation. Then he came home to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to discover that his parents had bought a television. When he turned it on, according to Junod, he knew that he wanted to use its medium “for the broadcasting of grace through the land.”

He attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he earned a Masters of Divinity degree, and also took graduate courses in child development at the University of Pittsburgh. Upon graduation, he was ordained by the Presbytery of Pennsylvania with the charge to continue his ministry to children and their families through the media.

Fred Rogers continued that ministry for thirty-three years, touching millions of souls.

His singular focus was on helping children understand their intrinsic sacred value. He looked into the camera and imagined a single child to whom he was speaking. He did all he could to help that child face the challenges of our broken world, discussing such difficult subjects as death, divorce, and war.

Across three decades, his mission was to convey to children everywhere the fact that God loves them just as they are.

“The three secrets of happiness”

Today’s news is all the evidence we need that we need Mister Rogers’ message as much today as ever. A deputy’s son killed a beloved sheriff in Alabama, authorities said yesterday. A small passenger plane crashed into homes in Congo, killing at least twenty-five. And a mother in Australia has been charged with murder after her two children were found dead in a hot car Saturday.

In such a fractured time, a New Yorker review lauds the film’s “dramatization of an unabated sense of responsibility to do whatever one can to help put things aright” and calls it “a work of intimate and tragic politics, of unsought heroism that’s cursed with the very fact of its necessity.”

Fred Rogers made the same point rather more simply.

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