Charles Stanley – Too Good for Salvation?

 

Ephesians 2:1-10

When Jesus walked this earth, one group of people consistently refused Him—the Pharisees. The most outwardly righteous people of that day couldn’t see themselves as sinners. These religious leaders assumed they had no need for Jesus, who said He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Many people today think the same thing—that they’re good enough to get to heaven on their own. After all, they aren’t criminals, so surely their good deeds must surely outweigh their bad ones, right? Wrong. In God’s eyes, we’re all spiritually dead, enslaved to lusts, and are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:1-3).

Pride often keeps us from understanding the extent of our guilt. Sin led to Satan’s downfall, and it has infected every human since Adam and Eve. We like to think there is something in us that’s good enough to please the Lord, but Scripture teaches we can be saved only by God’s grace.

Salvation is a gift received through faith in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:8). There’s nothing we can do to earn it, because any good thing we do is tainted by the sin that dwells within. Your only hope is to look to Christ to save you. Trust in His death as payment for your sins; then you’ll be made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 16-17

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Through the Waters

 

Bible in a Year:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.

Isaiah 43:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 43:1–7

The movie The Free State of Jones tells the US Civil War story of Newton Knight and some Confederate deserters and slaves who aided the Union Army and then resisted slaveholders after the war. Many herald Knight as the hero, but two slaves first saved his life after his desertion. They carried him deep into a secluded swampland and tended a leg wound he suffered while fleeing Confederate forces. If they’d abandoned him, he would have died.

The people of Judah were wounded and desperate, facing enemies and feeling helpless. Israel had been overtaken by Assyria, and Isaiah prophesied that one day they (Judah) would also be overcome by an enemy—Babylonia. Judah needed a God who would help, who would rescue and not forsake them. Imagine, then, the surging hope when the people heard God’s assurance: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:5). Whatever calamity they faced or trouble they would endure, He would be with them. He would “pass through the waters” with them, leading them to safety (v. 2). He would “walk through the fire” with them, helping them through the scorching flames (v. 2).

Throughout Scripture, God promises to be with His people, to care for us, guide us, and never abandon us—whether in life or death. Even when you find yourself in difficult places, God is with you. He’ll help you pass through the waters.

By:  Winn Collier

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Implementing Easter

 

The dominating time-piece is nothing if not thought-provoking. British inventor John Taylor’s “Chronophage” (literally ‘time eater’ from the Greek chronos and phageo) keeps watch outside Cambridge’s Taylor Library of Corpus Christi College.(1) A foreboding metal grasshopper with an ominous chomping mouth appears to devour each minute with eerie pleasure and constancy. The toll of the hour is marked by the clanging of a chain into a tiny wooden coffin, which then slams shut—”the sound of mortality,” says Taylor.(2) The pendulum also speeds up sporadically, then slows to a near halt, only to race ahead again as if somehow calculating the notion that time sometimes flies, sometimes stands still. The invention, according to Taylor, is meant to challenge our tendency to view time itself as we might view a clock. “Clocks are boring. They just tell the time, and people treat them as boring objects,” he added. “This clock actually interacts with you”—indeed, striking viewers with the idea that time is nothing to take for granted.(3)

 

The Christian worldview is one that recognizes at the deepest level that something about humanity is not temporal. Easter, in fact, is the celebration that this is not just a suspicion, but a reality. Christians believe in eternal dwellings, a day when tears will be no more, and in one who is preparing a house of rooms and welcome.(4) And yet, we also very much live with the distinct experience of these promises within time. Christ is not merely the one who will be with us in all eternity, the one who will dry our eyes at time’s end. Christians believe he is also alive and among us today, welcoming a kingdom that is both present and approaching. “Remember, I am with you always,” ends one of account of the life of Jesus, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). For the Christian, all of time is filled with the hope of resurrection, even as it is filled with Christ himself.

Why then, I wonder, are there moments when time seems so oppressive, the hope of eternity a distant glimmer, the presence of a resurrected Christ beside the daily pendulum an inapplicable promise? If the Christian life is about moving closer and closer to the glory of the resurrected Christ, why is there not more light and less darkness, a more vibrant Church and less grumbling, greater outreach and less greed, followers who look more like Jesus and less like the world around them? The expectation in the life of a Christian is that there will be a dramatic difference, or at least steady progression, of lives transformed by Christ. But instead we often find little difference—or we find the opposite of progression, so that both inside and outside of the church people are left wondering: Where is transformation as all this time marches onward?

John Taylor’s menacing grasshopper is an apt image for such a confession. Time marches on oppressively, unapologetically, while the promise of “being transformed into [Christ’s likeness] from one degree of glory to another” seems to remain a distant mirage.(5) Christians begin to doubt. Skeptics point out the obvious fantasy of faith. *But perhaps something in Taylor’s clock also challenges this fearful view of time and transformation. Time is indeed a linear progression, marching onward in precise increments, but our experience of time is far less like this. We are at times startled by its passing, other times painfully aware of its tedious movement. We interact with time knowing that some minutes are fuller than others, but that time is always more than a linear, monotonous experience.

Similarly, when I think of transformation, I often think of dramatic change: an acorn turned into an oak tree, the apostle Paul changed from zealous tormentor to zealous Christian, Lazarus moved from death to life. And I believe there is indeed something quite like this that takes place in the life of one willing to follow resurrected Christ—a creature who actually stops being one thing in order to become something else. It should not be surprising that around the world we find Christians in the most unlikely places, administering aid, speaking hope, exhibiting this change of which the gospel speaks. For clothed in Christ’s perfect nature, the nature of a person is truly changed. Though we stand before God imperfect and discouraged, it is the Son the Father now sees. And this part of Christian transformation is as dramatic as it is complete, allowing us—and the world—to stand assured of God’s work within.

But this is not to say that God is finished working. To the one who has been united with Christ, the daily indwelling of God is a gift! Within the Christian’s experience of time, the message of the gospel is all the more transformational, the vicariously human Christ is our moral influence daily, and through the Holy Spirit we are being further transformed into his image. This kind of transformation is neither the dramatic change often expected, nor the steady linear progression for which we might hope. Like Paul himself, we can find ourselves doing the things we don’t want to do, falling back into mindsets that need to be renewed, imitating a broken world more than we imitate Christ. Transformation at these times seems far less like Lazarus rising from the grave and more like a would-be butterfly refusing to come out of its cocoon.

But even here, Christ is surely near, the eternal urging the world of souls to see the potential even in this very moment: “The intermediate hope—” writes N.T. Wright, “the things that happen in the present time to implement Easter and anticipate the final day—are always surprising because, left to ourselves, we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them. And we are wrong. Our task in the present… is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day.”(6)

That is to say, Easter is being implemented. Whether we make our bed in the depths, whether we fall repeatedly or seem to be moving backward, God is both near and at work, the reality of the resurrection working its way into every ticking minute. In the experience of time before us is the radical promise of both the intermediate hope and transformation and the gift of looking glory full in the face. By the power of the Spirit, God takes the most wretched of creatures and changes it into the likeness of Christ, the most beautiful creature. Whether time is flying or standing still, for the worst of us, even menacing grasshopper types, this is indeed very good news.

 

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

 

(1) Maev Kennedy, “Beware the time-eater: Cambridge University’s Monstrous New Clock,” The Gaurdian, September 18, 2008.
(2) Robert Barr, “Fantastical New Clock Even Tells Time,” MSNBC, September 19, 2008.
(3) Ibid.
(4) Luke 16:9, Revelation 21:4, John 14:2.
(5) 2 Corinthians 3:18.
(6) N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope (New York: Harper, 2008), 29-30.

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Joyce Meyer – God-Given Desires

 

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. — Psalm 37:4 (AMPC)

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

One of the ways God speaks to us is through the sanctified desires of our hearts. God places right desires in our hearts and then He gives us those desires. I remember a time when I really desired some homemade zucchini bread, but had no ability or time to make it. I simply said, “Lord, I sure would like some fresh zucchini bread,” and didn’t think about it again. About a week later, a lady (who had no idea I’d been wanting zucchini bread) handed me a box and when I opened it, I found homemade zucchini bread! God delights in doing both small and large things for us and we should never fail to appreciate them.

We need to ask God to give us sanctified, or holy, desires. We usually have desires for natural things like success, finances, nice homes, and good relationships, but we should also desire spiritual things. We should desire to know God in a deeper and more intimate way, to always display the fruit of the Spirit (especially love), and to live our lives in a way that pleases Him.

Wrong desires torment us and make us impatient about receiving them, but sanctified desires come with a willingness to wait on God’s ways and timing. When we ask Him to take away fleshly desires and replace them with right ones, God gives us new desires that agree with His Word and bring His righteousness, peace, and joy to our lives (see Romans 14:17; Psalm 103:5).

Prayer Starter: Lord, please help me trust You with my desires, and replace any desires in my heart that are not from You with Your desires for my life. Thank You for wanting to bless me and meet my needs in new ways. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Cleansed From Sin

 

“But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin” (1 John 1:7).

A pastor I know had once delighted in studying and preaching the Word of God. In his earlier days, he had been a real soul-winner, but the time came when he no longer spent time reading and studying the Scriptures. He became critical, discouraged and pessimistic. Finally, his personal life and his family fell apart.

At one point, he told me, he was thinking about committing suicide. He could have been spared all of this heartache, tragedy and sorrow if only he had continued to study the Word of God, to meditate on its truths and to obey its commands.

As someone wisely said, “Sin will keep you from God’s Word, or God’s Word will keep you from sin.”

Many of the problems we experience in the Christian life are self-imposed. They are the result of carelessness in the way we walk. The promises of God are true; you can stake your life on them. The way to supernatural living is to walk with God in the light of His presence.

“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. So if we say we are His friends, but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence…then we have wonderful fellowship and joy…” (1 John 1:5-7, LB).

Bible Reading: I John 2:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Claiming the power of the Holy Spirit, I will continue to live in the light of God’s presence and explain to those who walk in darkness how they too can walk in the light of God’s presence and in joyful fellowship with our risen Savior.

 

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Max Lucado – When You See God at Work

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When God responds to our specific prayer in specific ways, our faith grows.  The book of Genesis relates the wonderful prayer of Abraham’s servant.  He was sent to find a wife for Abraham’s son.

How does a servant select a wife for someone else?  This servant prayed about it.  “O Lord God of my master, Abraham.”  I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water.  This is my request.  I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug of water.’  If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink…let her be the one you have selected…”

The servant envisioned an exact dialog, and then he stepped forth in faith.  Scripture says, “Before he had finished speaking, Rebekah appeared (Genesis 24:15).  The servant offered a specific prayer and had an answered prayer.  Consequently, he saw God at work.  May you and I do the same!

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 – Welcome to the office of the future: How to ‘cast all your anxiety’ on God

 

The Jetsons were an animated television family in the early 1960s. Their space-age home was cleaned by Rosie the robot. They talked to each other via video and smartwatches and read the news on flat-screen televisions. Drone-like flying pods delivered their children to school. Voice-activated devices talked to them.

That was then, this is now.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, interior designers are busy planning the office of the future. Here’s a vision of what office workers may come back to (whenever that is).

The doors into our office building will open automatically so we don’t have to touch them. We will tell the elevator our floor so we don’t have to touch its buttons. Elevator occupancy will be regulated to enable social distancing.

Our office will have dividers separating workspaces that are spaced further apart. Break rooms and kitchens will have fewer chairs and signs documenting the last time they were cleaned.

All of this reverses the trend following the last recession in which companies were trying to do more with less space. Many packed their employees into open office spaces, a practice known as “densification.” This will likely be reversed now with more private spaces or personal offices for employees. Sensors will detect and warn of overcrowding; employees will take turns using private offices and will work from home otherwise.

One company is developing a concept called “Six Feet Office” with visually displayed foot traffic routing to keep employees six feet apart. Higher quality air filtration systems, UV lighting to sanitize surfaces, and more ubiquitous hand-sanitizing stations are predicted. So are infrared body temperature scanners and virus and antibody testing kits for employees.

We will need more space for fewer employees

All of this, of course, assumes we will return to our offices.

According to a new MIT report, 34 percent of Americans who previously commuted to work were working from home by the first week of April due to coronavirus. Prior to the pandemic, only 4 percent of the American workforce worked from home at least half the time.

Home offices are becoming more ubiquitous as a result. People are looking for ways to convert a closet or add a room to create more functional work-from-home space. They are buying desks, office supplies, and computer technology more frequently than before.

Does this trend mean that companies will lease less space? One way companies can lessen the financial impact of the pandemic is to reduce their rent obligations. However, while they may have fewer in-office employees, their social-distancing space may need to be larger, so that the two trends cancel each other out.

“Return, O my soul, to your rest”

As we look to the future with the pandemic, it’s vital that we look to the past with our Lord.

Psalm 116 begins: “I love the Lord” (v. 1a). This is a present-tense affirmation and experience. But here is why the psalmist makes this declaration: “because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy” (v. 1b). He trusts God in the present because God has been trustworthy in the past.

The psalmist makes his point again: “Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live” (v. 2, my emphasis). Once again, he bases his present faith in God on God’s faithfulness in the past.

He then illustrates: “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!'” (vv. 3–4).

This experience taught him that “gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful” (v. 5). He knows that “the Lord preserves the simple” because “when I was brought low, he saved me” (v. 6). Now he can say, “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (v. 7).

How to “cast all your anxiety on him” 

What pandemic-induced changes in your life today are especially difficult for you? Name them, then identify times in the past when God has been faithful to you when you faced related challenges.

If you’re struggling financially, remember previous times when God met your needs. If you’re worried about the future, remember days when such worries were met by God’s grace. If you’re concerned about your family or health, remember when God provided for your family and health.

Now trust your present fears to your ever-present Father. He promises that “he will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Jesus assured us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). You can “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

  1. C. Sproul observed: “The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in.”

Do you?

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