Charles Stanley – A Divine Demonstration of Love

 

1 John 4:7-19

To better understand divine love, consider its opposite —false “love,” which sets limitations and always withholds something. This so-called love clings to control and gives only in order to manipulate. It is emotionally detached and unwilling to be vulnerable.

Genuine love, on the other hand, respects people as they are. It means understanding who the other person really is and loving without restriction. If you must be in control and your heart is not 100% in it, you’re missing true love.

Looking at the love of Jesus Christ on the cross, I see the most perfect demonstration of love anywhere. The Savior showed us how unlimited His love is: He gave His life for us and withheld nothing (Rom. 8:32)! He did not give His love to manipulate us but instead gave us free will to accept or reject Him. And He loved us with vulnerability, already knowing His love would be rejected—even ignored or mocked. In loving with His whole heart, Jesus was willing to be turned down.

If you’re ever unsure about what true love really looks like, turn to the cross. Jesus gave His best—His all—to love us so that we could become children of God (1 John 3:1).

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 30-31

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — What Comes Next?

 

Bible in a Year:

There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord . . . will award to me on that day.

2 Timothy 4:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 4:1–8

On the night of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In it, he hints that he believed he might not live long. He said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. . . . [But] I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The next day, he was assassinated.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his death, wrote to his protégé Timothy: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. . . . Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:68). Paul knew his time on earth was drawing to a close, as did Dr. King. Both men realized lives of incredible significance, yet never lost sight of the true life ahead. Both men welcomed what came next.

Like them, may we “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

By:  Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What is your understanding of this life’s temporary nature? How do you think it plays into the life that comes next?

Heavenly Father, help us to keep our eyes on You and not on the troubles and trials of this life.

Read Life to Come: The Hope of the Christian Faith at discoveryseries.org/q1205.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up the Self

In his 1989 book, In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen recounts a time of grave spiritual atrophy. Nouwen was a highly regarded Ivy League professor as well as an in-demand speaker and author. He was the toast of any town. And most impressive of all (to me), he was personal friends with Fred Rogers.

Nouwen was also growing increasingly empty inside. When an opportunity arose to work with Daybreak in Toronto, Henri bravely walked away from his old life and jumped into service for the intellectually disabled. He had gone from the pinnacle of renown in Christian circles to serving a marginalized group where there was sure to be little thanks and even less fame. And yet, he was revitalized during this time.

Once Henri had to go to a speaking engagement but did not want to go alone. He ended up taking “Bill” with him, one of the permanent residents at Daybreak, and the two had a great time. During breakfast the next day, Bill asked Henri if he had liked the trip. Henri said that, yes, he had enjoyed the trip very much. Bill responded with, “And we did it together, didn’t we?”

Henri writes: “Then I realized the full truth of Jesus’ words, ‘Where two or three meet in my Name, I am among them’ (Matthew 18:20). In the past, I had always given lectures, sermons, addresses, and speeches by myself. Often I had wondered how much of what I had said would be remembered. Now it dawned on me that most likely much of what I said would not be long remembered, but that Bill and I doing it together would not easily be forgotten. I hoped and prayed that Jesus, who had sent us out together and had been with us all during the journey, would have become really present to those who had gathered in the Clarendon Hotel in Crystal City.”(1)

I saw this up close and personal when a Lutheran pastor I worked for (whose name really is Bill) answered the call to lead a diminished and declining flock in a smaller town. No one wanted to lose this talented teacher and preacher. And this was not the best career decision to make; in the metrics of worldly success, this was a demotion. That was the point, though. He told me that we must truly go where God leads us and anything else is simply career advancement. We need be people who proclaim with Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!”

These counterintuitive stories are reflections of Christ’s example. In the Lenten origin story, Jesus goes without food for 40 days, and so Lent is typically a time of “fasting” from certain foods, although now someone may choose to fast from social media, watching Netflix, etc. If we look deeper into the narrative, though, we are introduced to some of the most grand paradoxes. There is something fascinating taking place behind the fast.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up the Self

Joyce Meyer – Overcome Fear with Faith

 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Fear can take many forms—worry, anxiety, panic or even dread. But it’s so important for us to get the upper hand on fear because it does not come from God.

Even when we face uncertainty or difficulties in life, God wants us to have faith that He is with us in the struggle and that He can do great things. He wants us to remain positive and full of hope!

Faith is the opposite of fear. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith allows us to believe that God is going to do something great even before it comes to pass. Faith enables us to believe things that may not make sense to our natural minds.

One of the main ways we release our faith is through what we say. So, even when it doesn’t look like good things are happening, it’s important to say what God’s Word says about our situation.

When you are going through a difficult time or find yourself expecting the worst, I encourage you to say things like:

“God has a great plan for my future, and I believe something good is going to happen today!” (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

“My future is bright, and I have nothing to worry about—God is taking care of me. The Lord’s goodness and mercy follow me every single day of my life!” (See Philippians 4:6; Psalm 23:6.)

“I don’t have to fear, because God is always with me.” (See Joshua 1:9.)

Living by faith doesn’t mean that we ignore our circumstances, but it means that we choose to focus on God and believe that He is greater than anything we are going through (see Ephesians 3:20).

Pray: “God, thank You for watching over every detail of my life. When things are uncertain, help me to believe Your Word more than my doubts and fears. Help me to speak words of faith and say what You say about my situation. I know that You are greater than my fears and You have good things planned for my future. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Clothed in Christ

 

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NAS).

You may be surprised, as I was, at the result of our personal surveys having to do with church members and salvation.

Such surveys indicate that somewhere between 50 and 90% of all church members are not sure of their salvation. Like Martin Luther, John Wesley and many others who became mighty ambassadors for Christ, some spend many years “serving God” before they experience the assurance and reality of their salvation.

The pastor of a large fashionable church of 1,500 members once reacted negatively when I shared these statistics, doubting that such large percentages of church members lacked assurance of their salvation.

He decided personally to survey his own congregation at the church where he had served as senior pastor for 15 years. To his amazement and shock, more than 75% of the membership indicated they were not sure of their salvation.

The following Sunday, the pastor arranged for the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, which contains the distilled essence of the gospel, to be distributed to each member of the congregation.

For his sermon he read the contents of the booklet aloud, as the congregation followed him, reading from their own copies of the Four Laws. Then he invited all who wished to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord to read aloud with him the prayer contained in the booklet. Almost the entire congregation joined in the prayer audibly. As a result the church was changed, because changed individuals in sufficient numbers equal a changed church, a changed community and a changed nation.

Have you clothed yourself in Christ?

Bible Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not take for granted that I have found faith in Christ simply because I belong to a church, nor will I assume that all church members have assurance of their salvation. I shall encourage all who are not sure to receive Christ and be clothed in His righteousness.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Cast Yourself Upon the Grace of Christ

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Guilt sucks the life out of our souls.  Grace restores it.  No one had more reason to feel the burden of guilt than did the apostle Paul.  He had orchestrated the deaths of Christians—he was an ancient version of a terrorist.

Paul gave his guilt to Jesus.  Period.  He surrendered it to Jesus.  As a result he could write, “I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.”  (Philippians 3:13-14).

What would the apostle say to the guilt-ridden?  Simply this: Rejoice in the Lord’s mercy.  Trust in his ability to forgive. Cast yourself upon the grace of Christ and Christ alone!

Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Funerals in the Holy Land and a virtual tour of Jerusalem: Using the pandemic for eternal good

There is nothing like being in the Holy Land during the Easter season. After leading more than thirty study tours to Israel, I can tell you that each time feels like the first time. There is something miraculous and transforming about this ancient land, especially during this season.

This year, April is not only the month of Easter for Christians, but of Passover for the Jewish people and the beginning of Ramadan for Muslims. Because of the pandemic, however, the streets of Jerusalem are virtually empty. Churches and other religious sites are closed. Even burials are different.

In Israel, Jewish dead are typically laid to rest in a cloth smock and shroud without a coffin. Now, the bodies of COVID-19 victims are taken for ritual washing, which is performed in full protective gear, wrapped in impermeable plastic, and wrapped again in plastic before interment. Muslim bodies are not washed or shrouded but buried in a plastic body bag. Funerals can be attended by no more than twenty people in an open space. The bereaved are not embraced.

Here’s some good news, however: Israel’s Tower of David Museum is using virtual reality to allow us to visit the Western Wall during Passover, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during Easter, and the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

The museum has created an immersive 360-degree virtual reality experience for anyone with internet access. We will be able to see the Holy City as it is today and as it looked twenty centuries ago. The link will be available free of charge from the first day of Passover to the first day of Ramadan (April 9–24).

“Our routine is the scaffolding of life”

The philosopher Walter Benjamin noted, “History is made up of images, not stories.” The images coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, like empty streets in Jerusalem, tell the story of this unfolding tragedy.

In addition to the escalating numbers of victims and patients and its devastation of our economy, the pandemic is disrupting our daily lives in unprecedented ways. Adrienne Heinz, a clinical research psychologist at the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, notes: “Our routine is the scaffolding of life. It’s how we organize information and our time. And without it, we can feel really lost.”

As a result, she says, “I’m . . . really worried about families. I’m worried about increases in alcohol use. I’m worried about domestic violence. I’m worried about child abuse, because parents are under-resourced.”

Psychologist Susan Clayton adds: “Most of us have not faced a situation like this. So we have no previous experience that we can use to interpret it. We have no guidance about how we should be responding.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – Funerals in the Holy Land and a virtual tour of Jerusalem: Using the pandemic for eternal good