Charles Stanley – The Wages of Sin

 

Romans 6:21-23

God sent His Son to take our punishment by dying in our place. Unless believers understand this provision, they will doubt their salvation. We can’t be good enough to earn heaven. All are born with a corrupted nature; therefore, we will at times sin, no matter how hard we try not to. The Bible compares our attempts at righteous deeds to filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).

On its own, mankind has but one option with regard to sin: to die in it and spend eternity separated from God. But the Father so loved the world that He chose to punish His Son in our place (John 3:16). It was a severe price to pay. Holy God cannot look upon the squalor of sin, so when Jesus became sin for all mankind, the Father had to turn away (2 Cor. 5:21). The physical suffering of crucifixion was terrible, but nothing compared to Jesus’ wrenching horror when the Father left Him. The devastated Messiah cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).

Jesus accepted separation from the Father so we wouldn’t have to. When Paul said that the wages of sin was death, he was referring to eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23). As believers, we are saved and forever reconciled with the Lord because of what Jesus has done.

The Savior took our place and accepted humanity’s punishment for sin. He and the Father have done the hard work of salvation so that you and I can live a life of peace, freedom, and hope and never be separated from our Creator. If you believe that Jesus Christ—the Son of God— died for your sins, then you too are saved.

Bible in One Year: 1 Corinthians 7-10

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hazardous Materials

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 35–36
  • 2 Peter 1

See, this [live coal] has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.

Isaiah 6:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 6:1–10

The sound of a siren increased to an ear-piercing level as an emergency vehicle sped by my car. Its flashing lights glared through my windshield, illuminating the words “hazardous materials” printed on the side of the truck. Later, I learned it had been racing to a science laboratory where a 400-gallon container of sulfuric acid had begun to leak. Emergency workers had to contain the substance immediately because of its ability to damage whatever it came in contact with.

As I thought about this news story, I wondered what would happen if sirens blared every time a harsh or critical word “leaked” out of my mouth? Sadly, it might become rather noisy around our house.

The prophet Isaiah shared this sense of awareness about his sin. When he saw God’s glory in a vision, he was overcome by his unworthiness. He recognized that he was “a man of unclean lips” living with people who shared the same problem (Isaiah 6:5). What happened next gives me hope. An angel touched his lips with a red-hot coal, explaining, “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (v. 7).

We have moment-by-moment choices to make with our words—both written and spoken. Will they be “hazardous” material, or will we allow God’s glory to convict us and His grace to heal us so we can honor Him with everything we express?

By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Why do our words have such a powerful effect on others? How might God want to change your speech?

Dear God, help me to see how my words affect other people. Show me how to encourage them.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – ‘Tis the Season of Enough

 

Black Friday is the name Americans have given the day after Thanksgiving, though the concept has caught on in Canada and Europe. It is called “black” because store-keepers know it as the time of year when sales move further into the black and farther into profit margins. “Cyber Monday” is a clever addition to the frenzied consumer holiday, luring black Friday shoppers and their less adventurous counterparts to continue their purchasing online. Whether in-store or online, steep sales and loud advertisements evoke both buyer and seller competition and make for frenzied scenes. Those who watch as bystanders still sense the fervor that begins on Black Friday and continues in a hectic race until Christmas. When everyone around you seems to be running, standing still is easier said than done.

Each year the commencement of the Christmas shopping season overshadows the commencement of a far quieter season. The season of Advent (which begins on December 1 this year) signals the coming of Christmas for Christians, though not in the way that Black Friday signals the coming of the same. “Advent is about the spirituality of emptiness,” writes Joan Chittister, “of enough-ness, of stripped-down fullness of soul.” It is a far cry from the hustle of the holidays that is a race for storing things up. Speed-hoarding through the days of Christmas preparation, Christmas itself even becomes somewhat anticlimactic. “Long before December 25th everyone is worn out,” said C.S. Lewis more than fifty years ago, “physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making… They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.”(1) Quite the opposite, Advent is a season meant to slow us down, to open windows of awareness and health, to trigger consciousness. It is about finding the kind of quiet mystery and the sort of expectant emptiness that can offer a place for the fullness of God as an infant among us.

Of course, for even the quietest of hearts, this God who becomes human, the incarnate Christ, is still a disruptive mystery. But mystery, like beauty and truth, is well worth stillness, wonder, and contemplation. And this mystery—the gift of a God who steps into the world he created—is rich enough to make the most distracted souls stop and wait. As H.G. Wells said of Jesus, “He was like some terrible moral huntsman digging mankind out of the snug burrows in which they had lived hitherto.”(2) “Let anyone with ears listen!” said Jesus repeatedly throughout his life on earth. “But to what will I compare this generation?” he added. “It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’”(3) You and I can open our minds to hear the great and unsearchable things we do not know, things like the Incarnation that we may never fully understand but are always compelled to encounter further. Or we can look for all of Christmas to correspond with societal whims and unconscious distractions, cultural debates about what we call or don’t call the season, arguments about public billboards and private mangers.

Christ will come regardless. The hope of Advent is that it is always possible to make room for him. Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who composed a remarkable series of journals in the darkest years of Nazi occupation before she died in Auschwitz, wrote, “[S]ometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.”(4) Advent can be this simple; the invitation of Christ this simple. Let anyone with ears open them. Contemplating Christmas need not mean Christmas wars or lists and budgets, endless labor, fretful commotion, canned happiness.

Advent, after all, is about the riches of being empty-handed and crying “Enough.” Enough stuff. Enough chaos. Enough injustice and hatred. Enough death and despair. This is a disruptively countercultural posture: empty-handed, so that we can fully hold the mystery before us and nothing less; empty-handed, like the God who came down from heaven without riches or power, but meek and small—full, expectant, and enough.

 

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

 

(1) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 305.
(2) Herbert George Wells, The Outline of History: being a plain history of life and mankind (New York: MacMillan, 1921), 505.
(3) Matthew 11:15-17.
(4) Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries 1941-1943 (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1983), 93.

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Joyce Meyer – Living Life on Purpose

 

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. — Ephesians 5:17

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

Are you living the life you truly want to live? If not, is it because you allow your life to rule you instead of you ruling it? When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He instructed them to subdue it and be fruitful. God has given us a free will, and He wants us to use it to choose His will for us. When we make choices according to the will of God, He empowers us to live a life that is truly amazing.

What do you want to accomplish today? Pray, make a plan, stay focused, and go for it! Put your time into what you want to do and don’t let circumstances and people derail you. Fight for yourself! Fight for your right to follow your heart instead of being controlled by outside forces.

Be determined; be strong. Don’t be vague and thoughtless, but have a plan and work your plan. God, through Christ, has provided a way for us to live an amazing life, but we need to continually make choices that agree with God. You have one life to live, so live it fully and refuse to drift along, letting other people and circumstances make your decisions for you.

Prayer Starter: Father, show me Your will for me and help me be courageous enough to make choices that agree with You. I want the life that You want for me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Just as He Promised

 

“God, who called you to become His child, will do all this for you, just as He promised” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Have you ever substituted your own name in a promise like that? I have, and the result is staggering, overwhelming. “God, who called Bill Bright to become His child, will do all this for me, just as He promised.”

Include your name in the verse, and the effect will be the same for you. It is incredible that before the very foundation of the world God chose and called you and me to become His children. His foreknowledge makes possible many of the mysteries we puzzle over today.

Your sanctification (setting apart) – and mine – depends upon God, and since He has begun a good work in us, He will see it through to completion. God requires holiness (another word for sanctification) and He is the resource upon whom we may call for accomplishment of that requirement.

While it is true we will never be completely and totally holy in this life, it is equally true that provision is made for us to be holy. Every moment that you and I are under the control of God’s Holy Spirit, is a moment that we are holy! Looked at in that light, the task of acquiring holiness does not seem so impossible to attain.

The principle is clear: God never gives a command without the enablement to obey it.

Bible Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will see myself as a child of God, the beneficiary of His multitudinous blessings, capable of living a supernatural life and bearing fruit for His glory through His enablement

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Jesus Welcomes Our Problems

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Do you want to see a father’s face go ashen?  Watch as he discovers three words on the box of a just-bought toy– “Some assembly required!”

What follows are hours of squeezing A into B, bolting D into F, sliding R over Z, and hoping no one notices if steps four, five, and six were skipped altogether.  I’m convinced the devil indwells the details of toy assembly.  Somewhere in perdition is a warehouse of stolen toy parts.

“Some assembly required.”  Not the most welcome sentence but an honest one.  Life is a gift, albeit unassembled.  The pieces don’t fit.  When they don’t, take your problem to Jesus.  He says, “Bring your problems to Me!”  In prayer, state them simply.  Present them faithfully, and trust Him reverently!

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Some surprising Black Friday facts: How to be grateful for what we do not yet have

Americans are expected to spend roughly $87 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. Counter to stereotypes, 88 percent of men say they plan to shop on those two days versus 85 percent of women. Men will also spend more than women on average.

One more gender-related fact: men (56 percent) are more likely than women (49 percent) to regret a shopping purchase.

And so, our culture shifts its focus from gratitude for what we have to shopping for what we do not have. There’s a surprising spiritual lesson here for us.

Giving thanks in the future tense

This Thanksgiving week, we’ve been discussing the biblical commands to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to “always give thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:20 NCV). We have noted that God calls us to give thanks “in” and “for” all that we experience.

The harder our circumstances, the harder such gratitude can be. So, we learned on Tuesday to trust God to redeem all he allows. On Wednesday, we focused on the power of public gratitude in times of hardship. Yesterday, we learned that when we thank God for his material provisions, we position ourselves to experience even greater spiritual grace.

Each of these days, we focused on gratitude in the present tense. Let’s close our Thanksgiving week by thinking about what we do not yet have. As we will discover, when we thank God for the future in the present, we experience his providence in transforming ways.

Two surprises in a familiar miracle

John 6 tells the story of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. We are familiar with the boy who had “five barley loaves and two fish” (v. 9) and the fact that Jesus “distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted” (v. 11).

Two elements of this miracle are often overlooked.

One is the gracious gift our Lord offered the crowd, providing them “as much as they wanted.” This was a rare feast for impoverished people, one they would long remember.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Some surprising Black Friday facts: How to be grateful for what we do not yet have