Charles Stanley – Religious but Lost

 

John 3:1-6

Nicodemus would probably be welcome at any church today. He seems an ideal member—principled, knowledgeable, and courteous. And as a Pharisee, he followed strict Jewish rules, which certainly made him religious. However, Nicodemus had serious drawbacks: He was blind to the truth and spiritually lost. In other words, he didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.

When Nicodemus came to see the Lord in John 3, Jesus explained to him that no amount of goodness could erase or change a person’s nature. Instead, everyone who desires to serve God must be born again. Jesus promised that if Nicodemus trusted Him as Savior, then he would enter into a brand-new life. His old flesh nature would be replaced so that he could have a real relationship with God—instead of appearing to be a religious man, Nicodemus would be a true believer.

No one gets into heaven because of good works and kind behavior. At the end of our earthly life when we stand before God, only our relationship with Him will matter. We will want to show Him that in place of our old sinful nature, we now have the living Spirit we received when Jesus Christ came into our life.

Bible in One Year: Genesis 4-7

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Prompted to Pray

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Genesis 1–3
  • Matthew 1

I constantly remember you in my prayers.

2 Timothy 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Timothy 2:1–8

“Several years ago I was prompted to pray for you often, and I wonder why.”

That text message from an old friend came with a photo of a note she’d kept in her Bible: “Pray for James. Cover mind, thoughts, words.” Beside my name she’d recorded three separate years.

I looked at the years and caught my breath. I wrote back and asked what month she began to pray. She responded, “Sometime around July.”

That was the month I was preparing to leave home for extended study abroad. I would be facing an unfamiliar culture and language and have my faith challenged like never before. As I looked at the note, I realized I’d received the precious gift of generous prayer.

My friend’s kindness reminded me of another “prompting” to pray, Paul’s instruction to his young missionary friend Timothy: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). The phrase “first of all” indicates highest priority. Our prayers matter, Paul explains, because God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” about Jesus (v. 4).

God moves through faithful prayer in countless ways to encourage others and draw them near to Himself. We may not know someone’s circumstances when they come to mind, but God does. And He’ll help that person as we pray!

By: James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Who comes to mind that needs your prayers in this new year? How can you remind yourself to pray for them often?

Loving God, please help me to pray often and to make a lasting difference in others’ lives through my intercession for them. 

To learn more about prayer, visit https://bit.ly/2kTeSVt.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Hindsight, Eyesight, and Insight

When this century began, the world was bordering on near hysteria over the coined phrase “Y2K.” You may recall how that “Millennium Bug” spawned fears that the date change from “99” to “00” would create havoc in computer networks around the world.

This year marks the next generation birthed since Y2K. As with the sitcoms of a previous era, the coming offspring will probably never hear of Y2K. What one generation battles, the next one forgets. The world didn’t collapse on January 1, 2000, but the fallout of a strident secularism has changed our culture, albeit with the aid of computers. It may not be accidental that the emblem on the new means of communication is ironically a half-bitten apple, man playing God and then fearing his own creation.

Twenty years from now, the next generation will marvel at the impeachment hearings that have dominated the news ad nauseam in this 2019/2020 transition. One of the most surprising things in this was an Ivy League professor of law who said this: “[W]e have to ask ourselves, someday we will no longer be alive and we’ll go wherever it is we go. The good place or the other place. And, you know, we may meet there, Madison and Hamilton, and they will ask us, ‘When the president of the United States acted to corrupt the structure of the republic, what did you do?’”

We know that politics has become our religion. More to the point, with the absence of much history being taught in our schools and a new pluralism that does not educate our young in the shared meanings of the past, leave alone thoughts of an afterlife, some student might wonder what a city in Wisconsin or a Broadway play have to do with our eternal destiny! Almost every category the professor invoked in his statement is actually disbelieved by our intellectuals. They thrive on repudiating the past, deny an eternal state, and toss moral accountability to the wind.

The fears of Y2K never materialized, but what we’ve done with the ability to mass communicate is more real and devastating. No foreign nation needed to meddle in our electoral process. We’ve done a thorough decimation job by ourselves.

But a new year is dawning. What do we pick as memorable from 2019 and to what will we pin our hopes in 2020? Can we look beyond our political melodrama and instead, see what God desires for us as his creation? It could make the difference. In the beginning, God created the human family and for millennia since then, that has been his purposeful plan. That is what He intended to bless for our own good. Our self-destructing culture notwithstanding, can we, each one of us, build a family to the glory of God?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Hindsight, Eyesight, and Insight

Joyce Meyer – How to Choose Good Friends

 

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. — Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)

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

If we listen, God will speak to us about our relationships—our marriages, friendships, business associations, and even casual acquaintances. He may ask us to sever friendships or relationships with people who can tempt us to stray from His plan for our lives.

We can easily become like those we spend time with. If we spend time with people who are selfish and self-centered, we may soon find ourselves often focused on ourselves, thinking about what we can do or get for ourselves. In contrast, God may encourage us to make friends with someone who is a giver. If we spend time with such a person, before long, we will be givers, too.

It is enjoyable and beneficial to spend time with someone who really hears from God, someone who truly senses what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing. It is not fun to spend time with people who are dull in their spiritual hearing, and we can tell when we are with someone like that.

The verse for today says that “iron sharpens iron,” and we can sharpen our ability to hear the right things by being with people who practice listening for God’s voice and obeying Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, I lift my relationships up to you. Help me to know who I should spend time with—the people who will influence me in a positive way and deepen my relationship with You. Help me to also be a positive influence in the lives of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Can Know the Spirit’s Fullness

 

“Be filled…with the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him” (Ephesians 5:18).

An enthusiastic, attractive couple traveled from their home in Chicago to Arrowhead Springs to share with me an idea about which they were very excited.

“We heard one of your filmed lectures on ‘How to Be Filled With the Holy Spirit.’ Our lives have been dramatically changed as a result of what you shared,” they said. “We have come all this way to encourage you to go on nationwide television and tell Christians how they can know the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit and experience His revolutionary impact in and through their lives.”

I am humbly grateful to God for the privilege of sharing these great truths concerning the Holy Spirit with tens of millions of people throughout the world, often with the same dramatic results experienced by this remarkable couple.

The disciples were with Jesus for more than three years. They heard Him teach as no man had ever taught. They saw Him perform miracles such as no man had ever performed – raising the dead, restoring sight to the blind and cleansing lepers. Though they were exposed to the most godly life ever lived on earth, during Jesus’ time of crisis, Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him and all the others deserted Him.

Jesus knew His disciples were fruitless, quarreling, ambitious, self-centered men, so – on the eve of His crucifixion – He told them, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I go, I will send Him to you…He will guide you into all the truth…He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you” (John 16:7,13,14 NAS).

Bible Reading: Galatians 5:5, 16-18, 22, 23, 25

Today’s Action Point: Today I will receive by faith the power of the Holy Spirit in order to live a supernatural life and be a supernatural witness. I will continue to study the scriptural reference and various books concerning the Holy Spirit, so that I will better understand His role in my life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – An Opportunity to Make a Difference

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

A few years back, three questions came from different people in the span of a month.

Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?

Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?

Question 3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

I didn’t mind the first two questions.  Those choices were not mine.  But the third question has kept me awake at night.  We are given an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time.  We are created by a God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven but here on earth.

Read more Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home

Denison Forum – NBC Anchor endorses letter denigrating those who believe in ‘fairy tales’ such as Noah’s ark: What persecution teaches us about our faith

Denison Forum – NBC Anchor endorses letter denigrating those who believe in ‘fairy tales’ such as Noah’s ark: What persecution teaches us about our faith

I need to begin with a disclaimer: this will be a positive article written to encourage Christians that we can face any circumstance we encounter this year with optimistic, joyful faith in our Father’s power and provision.

However, to get there, I need to explain why this topic is on my mind today.

“It’s Time We Dealt With Your Religious Intolerance”

On last Sunday’s Meet the Press, NBC News anchor Chuck Todd read and endorsed a letter claiming that supporters of Donald Trump “want to be lied to” since they believe in “fairy tales” such as Noah’s ark.

Leaving the politics of this claim aside, let’s note that Jews believe in Noah’s ark because it is described as an historical event in the Torah (Genesis 6–9). Jesus (Matthew 24:37–39) and Peter (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5) believed in its historicity as well. And Muslims find it in the Qur’an (29:14–15).

A recent article in Medium goes further in denigrating biblical faith. In “Dear Christians, It’s Time We Dealt With Your Religious Intolerance,” the writer laments that his Nigerian grandfather was chased from his village by Christian converts because he refused to convert to Christianity. He also notes that Christian missionaries imposed upon his father a new name, age, language, and clothing they deemed more appropriate to the faith.

He points to John Allen Chau, the Christian who broke numerous laws and was then killed while attempting to share the gospel with an unreached people group off the coast of India. The author’s conclusion is that any religion that believes others need to accept its message or face damnation is egotistical, intrusive, invasive, and intolerant. He is convinced that we should oppose such religions as vehemently as he does.

Of course, sins committed in the name of a religion or ideology are not necessarily the fault of that religion or ideology. As a Christian, I strongly believe that the writer’s grandfather and father were treated horrifically and indefensibly. We should not blame all Muslims for 9/11 or all atheists for Lenin’s atrocities.

And we should note that the writer’s rejection of religious “intolerance” is itself a form of intolerance.

ISIS beheads Nigerian Christians

While American Christians should note and respond to those who demean or attack our faith (1 Peter 3:15–16), we should also remember those who are facing far worse persecution than we experience.

I’m thinking of the eleven Nigerian Christians who were executed by ISIS terrorists, ten of them by beheading. It is thought that they were killed on Christmas Day. And government oppression in China that seeks to rewrite the Bible, tears down hundreds of church buildings, and imprisons pastors.

Open Doors states in its 2019 report that 245 million Christians around the world—one in nine globally—are currently suffering from persecution. On average, eleven believers are killed every day for their faith.

The countercultural way to be “blessed”

Jesus taught us: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). Notice that our Lord says “when,” not “if.”

Persecution is inevitable for true followers of Jesus (cf. John 16:33). Those who hate our Father will hate his children (John 15:18–21). Paul was blunt: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Here we learn that if we are not facing opposition for our faith, we should ask whether our faith is as public and uncompromising as it should be. I’m not suggesting that we need to seek to be persecuted. But I am suggesting that we should not be surprised when we are.

What persecution teaches us

Jesus continued: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12, my emphasis).

Persecution forces us to decide whether we are living for reward on earth or reward in heaven. Until we face opposition for our faith, we can easily deceive ourselves into thinking that we can live for this world and the next. When we are forced to choose between “treasures on earth” and “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19–20), we discover which truly comes first for us.

This discovery is crucial whether we are facing persecution or not since “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21).

65,000 students began the new year in worship

More than 65,000 college students gathered in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, to begin the new year with worship, Bible teaching, and prayer.

The purpose of Passion 2020, which ends today, “is you and me saying goodbye to lesser things and saying yes to Jesus, the One whose name is above every name.” Those attending are seeking “to live in such a way that their journey on earth counts for what is most important in the end.”

Let’s join them.

NOTE: I’m pleased to announce that A Pastor’s View launches on Tuesday, Jan. 7. This new ministry of support and encouragement for pastors and church leaders will offer free resources and a monthly teleconference with Pastor Mark Turman and me. If you are a church leader, I invite you to subscribe to A Pastor’s View here

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/