Charles Stanley – Conviction Versus Condemnation

 

Romans 8:1-2

Our heavenly Father desires that we walk closely with Him. To help us, the Holy Spirit guides us on the right path and redirects us when we are headed in the wrong direction. In other words, He convicts us when we are in danger of straying.

Conviction is God’s loving hand steering us back to the path that leads to life. To better understand the concept, picture a parent whose toddler begins to chase a ball into a busy street. The youngster has only one desire at that moment: to retrieve the toy. The parent, however, would be negligent if he or she did not stop the child.

We, like the toddler in this example, view our life from a limited perspective. If our heavenly Father stops us from achieving a desire, it seems frustrating. But we must remember that the Almighty is acting out of His love for us.

Conviction begins even before salvation. The Holy Spirit reveals our wrongs to help us recognize that we need forgiveness. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and choose to follow Him, we are born again. Only then are we free from the penalty of sin. At the same time, we are still human and will make some poor choices. So, even after we are His children, God continues to redirect us.

Conviction is different from condemnation. Remember that “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). So though believers at times will sin, they are justified by Christ’s sacrifice and free from condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

Bible in One Year: Philippians 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — Our Guiding Light

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Daniel 11–12
  • Jude

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

2 Samuel 22:29

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 22:26–30

At a museum, I lingered near a display of ancient lamps. A sign revealed they were from Israel. Decorated with carved designs, these oval-shaped clay vessels had two openings—one for fuel, and one for a wick. Although the Israelites commonly used them in wall alcoves, each was small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand.

Perhaps a little light like this inspired King David to write a praise song in which he said, “You Lord are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light” (2 Samuel 22:29). David sang these words after God gave him victory in battle. Rivals from both inside and outside his own nation had been stalking him, intending to kill him. Because of his relationship with God, David didn’t cower in the shadows. He moved forward into enemy confrontations with the confidence that comes from God’s presence. With God helping him, he could see things clearly so he could make good decisions for himself, his troops, and his nation.

The darkness David mentioned in his song likely involved fear of weakness, defeat, and death. Many of us live with similar worries, which produce anxiety and stress. When the darkness presses in on us, we can find peace because we know God is with us too. The divine flame of the Holy Spirit lives in us to light our path until we meet Jesus face to face.

By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Why can you trust God to help you with your fears? What can you do to seek God’s guidance in your life?

God, please assure me of Your presence when I’m afraid. Help me to remember that You’ve defeated spiritual darkness through Your death and resurrection.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Lion in the Manger

It is a strange story. There were shepherds living out in the fields, protecting their sheep from predators in the night. An angel appeared to them, not the sort of modern sentiment, but a terrifying wall of light that told them not to be afraid. A baby had been born, and they could find him wrapped up and resting in a feeding trough. To a group of outsiders, God offered the first birth announcement. To a peasant mother outside of Bethlehem, the Son of God was born.

If we take a step back from the familiar dance and rush of Christmas and consider the story the Church around the world is really waiting for, we may well be thrown off our usual Christmas kilter. This is not really the innocuous historical narrative we imagine. This is not a dull or domesticated story. The bright lights and colors of ad campaigns and Christmas pageantry can easily paint over the stark scenery of a story that startled history itself. Who imagined God coming as a child, a God stepping into our world through an animal stall and into the unlikely arms of an unwed mother? Who can understand that story?

Yet even long before these strange additions to the story of this God among his people, the prophets were asking similar questions: “Who has understood the mind of the LORD?”(1) This God who moves among people, touching all of life and history is certainly not the quiet and tame being we often imagine. God’s movement isn’t predictable. God’s stories are not the kind of stories we would write if the telling were up to us. God’s thoughts are the sort of thoughts that expose deception and obliterate darkness, that overshadow souls and rewrite stories.

It is the same with the child born in a stable two thousand years ago. The infant the world vaguely remembers lying peacefully in a homey manger with cattle lowing nearby did not take long to fulfill the words spoken to his young parents weeks after his birth: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”(2) The old man’s words to Mary are definitely not the sort of thing a stranger typically says to a young mother holding the hopes and fears of a new baby. Is this the child we are anticipating this Advent?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Lion in the Manger

Joyce Meyer – Just Give It Time

 

…let me know Your ways so that I may know You [becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with You…. — Exodus 33:13 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When you spend time with God, it becomes evident. You become calmer; you’re easier to get along with; you are more joyful; and you remain stable in every situation. Spending quality time with God is an investment that yields rich benefits. You begin to understand what He likes and what offends Him. As with any friend, the more time you spend with God, the more like Him you become.

Spending time with God causes you to become more sensitive to the love He wants to demonstrate to you and to others through you. Your conscience alerts you to His will when you’re talking to someone in a way that does not please Him. Your heart grieves when He grieves, and you quickly pray, “Oh, God, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” You soon want to apologize to the person you have offended and discover that saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you” isn’t so difficult after all.

Moses enjoyed a deep level of intimacy with God, and He desired for God to bless His people. When God told Moses he had found favor in His eyes (see Exodus 33:12), Moses understood that God was telling him he could ask for anything his heart desired.

Moses responded by saying that he simply wanted to become more intimately acquainted with God and that he wanted God to bless the people he was responsible to lead. Moses had seen God perform history’s most magnificent miracles, yet what he wanted most of all was to know God intimately.

I pray that knowing God is the desire of your heart, just as it was for Moses. You can know Him and hear His voice as clearly and as intimately as you want to. All it takes is spending time with Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to know You more intimately. Please help me to invest in my relationship with You. Help me to take the necessary time to grow closer to You each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Another Comforter

 

“If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:15,16, KJV).

Some time ago, a young businessman came to see me. He was very eager to be a man of God. He wanted to know the fullness of the Holy Spirit in his life, but he said that every time he got on his knees to pray, all he could see was the merchandise he had stolen from his employer.

“God doesn’t hear my prayers,” he lamented. “I feel miserable and don’t know what to do.”

I suggested he confess his sin to his employer and make restitution.

“I don’t have the money to pay for the merchandise I have stolen,” he said. “What should I do? I’m afraid to tell my employer what I have done. I’m sure he will fire me, and he could send me to jail.”

“The Holy Spirit is convicting you,” I told him. “You can never experience the fullness of God’s Spirit and you’ll never be a man of God or have your prayers answered until you deal with this sin. You must trust the Lord to help you make restitution.”

So the next day he went to his employer, confessed he had stolen the merchandise and offered to make restitution. The employer received him warmly and understanding. He suggested that my friend pay a certain amount each month out of his salary until the debt was paid, which he was more than happy to do. He came immediately to tell me what had happened.

“Now God is hearing my prayers,” he said. “Now I know I am filled with the Holy Spirit. My heart is filled with joy and praise to God.”

Bible Reading: John 14:22-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will remain sensitive and alert for any unconfessed sin that might grieve or quench the indwelling Holy Spirit and hinder His working in and through me, robbing me of the supernatural life which God has commanded and enabled me to live, if only I will trust and obey Him.

 

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Max Lucado – Hello, Contentment

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

No cell phone?  No computer?  You’re kidding right?   “Not now, thank you, I’ve too much to do,” we say.  It’s crazy, since the reason we kill ourselves today is because we think it will make us content tomorrow!

But a funny thing happened on the way to the rat race that made me slip into neutral. My infant daughter had a stomach ache.  Mom was out so it fell to Daddy to pick her up. I started trying to do things with one hand and hold her with the other.  You’re smiling….you’ve tried that too?

I sat down, held her tight little tummy against my chest.  She began to relax.  Her little ear was right on top of my heart and she fell asleep.  She’ll never remember that moment, and I’ll never forget it!  “Good-by schedule,” I said.  “See you later, routine.  Hello, contentment.  Come on in!”

Read more No Wonder They Call Him Savior: Experiencing the Truth of the Cross

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – A man who nearly died at Pearl Harbor has been buried there: An inspiring story of courage that compels our best

The USS Arizona has seen its last burial.

Lauren Bruner was the second-to-last man to escape the ship during the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor. He was one of only 334 crew members to survive the December 7, 1941 attack that killed 1,177 of his fellow sailors.

When the ship exploded, Bruner swam across seventy feet of burning water to reach the repair ship USS Vestal. He suffered burns on nearly 80 percent of his body and was wounded by Japanese gunfire. He recovered from his injuries and returned to sea, serving aboard the destroyer USS Coghlan in eight more battles against the Japanese. He died this year on September 10, just months before his ninety-ninth birthday.

More than nine hundred sailors are entombed within the sunken ship. The remains of forty-three USS Arizona survivors have been interred there over the years as well. Per his request, an urn containing Bruner’s ashes was placed by divers inside the ship Saturday, the seventy-eighth anniversary of the attack.

Lauren Bruner will be the final person to be interred on the USS Arizona. The last three living survivors plan to be laid to rest with their families.

My father’s war story

Does reading about Lauren Bruner fill you with gratitude for his courage? It does for me, especially because what happened at Pearl Harbor so directly changed what would become my life.

My father grew up in a small town in Kansas with plans to become a doctor. He had never seen Japan prior to the “date that will live in infamy.” I doubt he had heard of Pearl Harbor before it was attacked.

But when President Roosevelt declared war on Japan (see his moving speech here), my father immediately enlisted in the Army and fought the Japanese in the South Pacific. Most of the men with whom he served died there. He witnessed atrocities that would mark him for the rest of his life. His entire trajectory was changed by his military service.

Sixteen million other Americans joined my father in serving our nation during World War II. Of their number, 405,399 were killed in action and 671,278 were wounded. No one who served our nation would ever be the same. We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay.

“Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border”

I was reading through 1 Chronicles and came upon the passage made famous by Bruce Wilkinson’s bestseller, The Prayer of Jabez: “Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’ And God granted what he asked” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

For God to “enlarge” his “border” meant to increase his territory and influence. Jabez wanted his life to count as fully as possible. But he knew that this was impossible unless the “hand” of God was “with” him to lead, empower, and protect.

Such a prayer may seem audacious, but “God granted what he asked.” It seems that the Lord wants us to seek to be all we can be for his glory and the good of others:

  • We are to “work heartily” in all we do (Colossians 3:23). Are you doing so?
  • God wants us to “approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10). Are you ready for that day?
  • Our Father empowers what he expects: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). Are you seeking such empowerment?

The temptation of being good

As I read about Lauren Bruner this weekend and thought about my father’s sacrifice, I was inspired to make Jabez’s prayer my own. If millions of men and women could give their best to serve our nation, I can give my best to serve my Lord.

Here’s the problem: it is tempting to settle for less than our best when our good seems better than others. If we have not yielded to cultural pressure on abortion, homosexual relations, euthanasia, etc., we can conclude that we are more moral than those who have. But heterosexual sexual sin is sin as well. God cares for the poor as well as the unborn. He wants the best medical care for the indigent as well as the terminally ill.

And he wants us to champion all that he champions. I have noticed that it is easier to preach against sins I am not tempted to commit personally.

The secularity of Christmas

It is interesting that Jesus chose to be born in a “secular” stable rather than a religious shrine. He chose for his first worshipers field hands who were ritually unclean and unwelcome at the Temple or synagogue. The first religious leaders who met him were pagans from what we call Iran today.

Jesus chose to make his home in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4:15). Neither he nor any of his apostles had rabbinic training. None would be “ordained” as we know the term today.

In other words, God intends his kingdom to extend to every corner of the culture, not just the parts we call “spiritual.” Here we discover a subtle but deadly temptation of the enemy: if he cannot lead us to reject all spirituality, he will tempt us to confine it to a day, a morning habit, a select group.

And to call ourselves good because we are better than some.

How to be “more than conquerors”

Abraham Kuyper: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

The more we are submitted to Jesus, the more we can be used by him. The more our lives count for what counts most. The more we experience his abundant life (John 10:10) and are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

How fully will you surrender to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ today?

 

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