Charles Stanley – The God Who Rescues Us

 

Romans 3:10-28

When we tell people that God wants to save them, they may immediately wonder why rescue is necessary. In their mind, they are in no immediate danger and therefore have no need of a Savior. Before a person can appreciate the good news, he or she has to understand the bad news.

Every one of us is in need of rescue because we are all sinful and worthy of God’s eternal condemnation and punishment. No matter how hard we try, “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12). This means that we lack the ability to make ourselves acceptable to God. In other words, we’re eternally doomed unless God Himself intervenes on our behalf. And that is exactly what He did.

In order to rescue fallen humanity, God ordained a plan for mankind’s salvation before He even created the world. Since His attribute of justice could not be set aside, an acceptable substitute was chosen to bear the condemnation and punishment that sinners deserved. The only one qualified for this mission was His beloved Son, who took on human flesh and lived a life without sin.

The gift of forgiveness and reconciliation to God is free to all who will receive Jesus Christ and believe He made atonement on their behalf. There is no condemnation for those who take refuge in Him. But those who reject His offer of salvation will have to bear the penalty for their sins themselves.

Christ did everything that was necessary to rescue us. All we have to do is believe and entrust our life to Him by faith.

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — Written on the Heart

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Jonah 1–4
  • Revelation 10

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.

2 Corinthians 3:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 2:17–3:6

As a professor, I’m often asked by students to write letters of recommendation for them—for leadership positions, study-abroad programs, graduate schools, and even jobs. In each letter, I have a chance to praise the student’s character and qualifications.

When Christians traveled in the ancient world, they often carried with them similar “letters of commendation” from their churches. Such a letter ensured that the traveling brother or sister would be welcomed hospitably.

The apostle Paul didn’t need a letter of recommendation when he spoke to the church in Corinth—they knew him. In his second letter to that church, Paul wrote that he preached the gospel out of sincerity, not for personal gain (2 Corinthians 2:17). But then he wondered if his readers would think that in defending his motives in preaching, he was trying to write a letter of recommendation for himself.

He didn’t need such a letter, he said, because the people in the church in Corinth were themselves like letters of recommendation. The visible work of Christ in their lives was like a letter “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (3:3). Their lives testified to the true gospel Paul had preached to them—their lives were letters of reference that could be “known and read by everyone” (3:2). As we follow Jesus, this becomes true of us too—our lives tell the story of the goodness of the gospel.

By: Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

When people read the “letter” of your life, what do they see of Jesus? Who are the teachers who have left their imprint on you?

Jesus, I want others to see You in my life. May I decrease and You increase.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christmas Through Indian Eyes

 

India is a land seeped in spirituality. Indians have a worthy reputation of being ardent spiritual seekers. It’s no surprise that the subcontinent happens to be the cradle of at least four of the twelve major world religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The ideas of karma, mukti, moksha, and nirvana are central motivators of life for any spiritual Indian to this day.

In the backdrop of such a salvation-driven eastern culture, the motif of Christmas seems supremely relevant. Different world religions and traditions have looked at the idea of salvation differently through the ages. Christmas offers the biblical explanation of the human predicament and the divine involvement that enables mukti and moksha.

As Charles Sell poignantly observes of the human predicament: “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.”(1)

Thinking of divine intervention, Hinduism is replete with the idea of Avatars in its religious texts and traditions. Avatars are divine incarnations that would come into this world at crucial points to restrain evil that had crossed a certain threshold. With their mission completed, having accomplished the purpose of their birth, they seal the circle of life with their death.
The story of the historic Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated at Christmas is similar in some ways, yet vastly different. The eternal Son of God puts on human form in the Incarnation. He enters the very world he created as an infant miraculously born of a virgin. But his entry into this world is not to restrain evil, but to overcome it. Not for a time (yug) but forever. He validated his victory over evil by vanquishing death itself, the final tangible evidence of evil through his resurrection from the dead. He  remains forever, fully God and fully Man. Certainly an atypical avatar.

The beauty of the story of Jesus is the purchase of victory, through defeat, another rather radical and unusual departure from any typical avatar narrative. In a world rooting for macho messiahs and avengers, the Jesus narrative is a counter-narrative, it is an odd narrative, and it is a neglected narrative seldom explored, sparsely understood.

The “all is well” anthem that is peddled around is more an indicator of a deep desire than it is of the reality. We live in disturbing times. All is certainly not well within us or around us. All is not well for those mourning the loss of a loved one, for those battling chronic illnesses, for those struggling to repay debts, for those whose marriages are at the brink of collapse. It is to such wounded and weary, downcast and distraught souls that the counter-cultural protagonist, Jesus, reaches out to and communicates hope and cheer. The biblical, historic Jesus, is deeply familiar and intimately acquainted with human pain and sorrow. He is uniquely qualified to not just sympathize but ably empathize with human suffering and agony like none other.

The kind of Savior that this scar-ravaged world needs today is not an avenger, not an avatar, not a macho messiah, but a Savior with scars. Edward Shillito, a World War I veteran perhaps closely acquainted with scars visible and invisible, poignantly captures the image of the mangled Messiah:

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

Mukti, Nirvana, and Moksha are the prominent motifs of Christmas through Indian eyes. For those of us who carry deep wounds, may the gift of Christ birth new hope and comfort, mukti, and moksha. This Christmas might he light up our hearts and homes and dispel evil, darkness, and pain both around and within.

Charles Premkumar Joseph is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Mumbai, India.

(1) Charles Sell, Unfinished Business (Eugene, OR: Multnomah, 1989), 121-122.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – What Is Grace?

 

. . . The [Holy] Spirit [Who imparts] grace (the unmerited favor and blessing of God). — Hebrews 10:29 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional

Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit available to you to do with ease what you cannot do by striving in your own strength. Grace is God’s power coming into our lives, freely enabling us to do whatever we need to do. God’s grace is always available, but we do need to receive it by faith and refuse to try to do things in our own strength without God.

The Holy Spirit ministers grace to us from God the Father. Grace is actually the Holy Spirit’s power flowing out from the throne of God toward people to save them and enable them to live holy lives and accomplish the will of God.

We can rejoice and be full of peace, joy, and contentment each day because of God’s grace in our lives. It is His grace that allows us to live in close fellowship with Him. With the grace of God, life can be enjoyed with an ease that produces rest and contentment.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to rely on Your grace to do everything. In my own strength, I can only do so much, but with You, all things are possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Gift of Himself

 

“Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17,18, KJV).

Near the Church of St. Mark’s in Venice are three 17th century churches often admired for their highly ornate sculpture. On closer inspection, Ruskin points out, they are found to be “entirely destitute of every religious symbol, sculpture or inscription.”

They are really monuments to the glory of three Venetian families who provided the funds for their construction. “Impious buildings, manifestations of insolent atheism,” they were called by John Ruskin, English writer, art critic and sociologist.

Many Christians are like these buildings. Their association with God is more of a facade, formal and ritualistic. They do not know God as a caring Father with whom they experience a delightful, loving relationship.

As we meet God’s conditions, he becomes our Father, and we become His sons and daughters. His gift of Himself is illustrated in the life of a successful young attorney.

“The greatest gift I ever received,” he said, “was a Christmas gift from my dad. Inside a small box was a note saying, ‘Son, I will give you an hour every day after dinner – 365 days. It’s all yours. We’ll talk about what you want to talk about, we’ll go where you want to go, we’ll play what you want to play. It will be your hour.

“He not only kept his promise, but every year he renewed it – and it was the greatest gift I ever had in my life. I had so much of his time.”

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:11-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will count myself richly blessed for having so much of my Father’s time and will seek diligently to be worthy of His love and availability to me.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Don’t Quit Too Soon

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Our human tendency is to quit too soon.  To stop before we cross the finish line!  It shows up in the smallest of things– a partly mowed lawn, a half-read book, or abandoned diet.  Or it shows up in life’s most painful areas like a cold faith; a wrecked marriage; an un-evangelized world.

Am I touching some painful sores?  If I am, I want to encourage you to remember Jesus’ determination on the cross.  Did he ever want to quit?  You bet.  That’s why his words are so splendid. “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

What was finished?  The history-long plan of redeeming man was finished.  The message of God to man was finished.  The sacrifice had been made.  It was over.  It’s a cry of completion.  A cry of fulfillment.  Thank you Lord Jesus, for teaching us to remain, to endure, and in the end—to finish!

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 – Three ways to interpret the impeachment of President Trump: The verdict of history and God’s call to eternal significance

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump last night, a decision that fell almost entirely along party lines.

As I noted yesterday, some House members have been trying to impeach the president for years and undoubtedly see yesterday’s vote as a vindication of their efforts. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some see the House Democrats as attacking the president unfairly and are even more likely to support him.

This marks only the third time in American history a president has been impeached. Few events in American political life are as potentially significant and insignificant at the same time.

A vote that could change nothing or everything

There are three ways to interpret what happened in the House of Representatives yesterday.

In one sense, the House vote may change nothing. The Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to acquit the president when his trial begins in early January. If it does, he will stay in office and will be free to run for reelection in 2020.

In a second sense, the House vote dramatically changes history. Even if the Senate acquits the president, impeachment will forever be part of the record of his administration. And if the Senate removes him from office, America will obviously never be the same.

In a third sense, we do not yet know the future significance of yesterday’s action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House could at least temporarily hold its articles of impeachment from the Senate, depending on how the latter chooses to conduct its trial on the president’s removal.

Even if the Senate acquits the president, we do not know the effect of impeachment on his future. President Andrew Johnson survived impeachment in 1868, lost his party’s nomination for reelection later that year, then won back his old Senate seat in 1875. President Bill Clinton survived impeachment in 1999 and left office in January 2001 with a 65 percent approval rating, the highest of any of his predecessors in half a century.

Assuming that President Trump is acquitted, undecided voters may see his impeachment as a reason to vote for or against him next year. The divided House of Representatives may achieve greater unity in the future, or its action may signal a new era in which impeachment becomes another tool in oppositional politics.

Until the Senate acts on the House vote, and perhaps for years afterward, we will have a limited perspective by which to judge the ultimate significance of yesterday’s action.

Visiting the Reagan Library

This balance between the now and the not-yet pervades every dimension of our world. You and I experience life in the present moment. But we also experience life as a continuum in which yesterday becomes today which flows into tomorrow.

This balance means that every moment is intrinsically significant, for it holds our past and our future in its hands. As a result, we must do all we can to be as faithful to our calling as we can while we can.

Yesterday, my wife and I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Southern California. As we toured this marvelous facility, we were struck by several of President Reagan’s quotes on display.

For instance, in his State of the Union address in 1984, the president stated: “Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”

How can the same be said of us?

“You eat, but you never have enough”

One option is to ignore the future for the sake of the present. However, such shortsightedness impoverishes both the future and the present.

The Lord said to the exiles who returned to Judah and rebuilt their homes while ignoring the house of God: “You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm” (Haggai 1:6). What we have without God is never as significant as what we can have with him.

A second option is to ignore the present for the sake of the future. However, such speculation impoverishes both the future and the present.

The Lord counseled his returned exiles: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord” (vv. 7–8). Rather than speculate about God’s future judgment, we should obey his present call. Then our present obedience will lead to his present and eternal reward.

“God wants to use us as he used his own Son”

The significance of yesterday’s impeachment vote awaits the verdict of history. But it also illustrates the urgency of serving our divided nation and our sovereign King with a courageous witness and compassionate grace.

Oswald Chambers: “It is only the loyal soul who believes that God engineers circumstances. We take such liberties with our circumstances, we do not believe God engineers them, although we say we do; we treat the things that happen as if they were engineered by men.”

As a result, “God is made a machine for blessing men, and Jesus Christ is made a Worker among workers.” Our Lord intends the opposite: “The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us.”

Here is the bottom line: “God wants to use us as He used His own Son.”

How fully can God use you today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/