Charles Stanley – Expanding the Horizons

 

Acts 1:1-8

The horizon is the farthest point of land or water that a person can see, where earth and sky meet. Yet the universe extends far beyond what the eye can behold. Similarly, the church’s vision can be limited. God said to bring the gospel to every nation, but we often confine our outreach to what we think is manageable.

Sometimes what holds us back from fulfilling God’s command is our limited experiences and understanding. We may act according to logic, but God calls us to obey in faith. For example, rational thought might lead people to avoid missions in a foreign country because it isn’t safe. Or perhaps there’s a language barrier. But Jesus said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). He is fully aware of our human limitations, so He provides guidance, wisdom, and strength to accomplish His will.

The church is to share the gospel, and God will call individuals to fulfill this commission in different ways. We’re all to participate through prayer and giving, and some are also called to action. Pray for direction and wisdom in communicating the good news of salvation to the world. The Holy Spirit will lead and empower you.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 24-25

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Free Indeed

 

Bible in a Year:

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 8:31–36

The film Amistad tells the story of West African slaves in 1839 taking over the boat that was transporting them and killing the captain and some of the crew. Eventually they were recaptured, imprisoned, and taken to trial. An unforgettable courtroom scene features Cinqué, leader of the slaves, passionately pleading for freedom. Three simple words—repeated with increasing force by a shackled man with broken English—eventually silenced the courtroom, “Give us free!” Justice was served and the men were freed.

Most people today aren’t in danger of being physically bound, yet true liberation from the spiritual bondage of sin remains elusive. The words of Jesus in John 8:36 offer sweet relief: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus pointed to Himself as the source of true emancipation because He offers forgiveness to anyone who believes in Him. Though some in Christ’s audience claimed freedom (v. 33), their words, attitudes, and actions regarding Jesus betrayed their claim.

Jesus longs to hear those who would echo Cinqué’s plea and say, “Give me freedom!” With compassion He awaits the cries of those who are shackled by unbelief or fear or failure. Freedom is a matter of the heart. Such liberty is reserved for those who believe that Jesus is God’s Son who was sent into the world to break the power of sin’s hold on us through His death and resurrection.

By:  Arthur Jackson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – At All Times

 

The Bible assures us that at all times God is with us. He is our comforter; He is our healer. He is our physician; He is our provider. He knows better than we do.

As I have previously shared with you, during my recent back surgery, the surgeon spotted something that concerned him enough to take a biopsy and the biopsy revealed I had cancer.

Our doctors in Atlanta were concerned I couldn’t start treatment until fully healing from the back surgery. However, since then we have been able to consult with doctors at the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Truly, God did a miracle in getting me here, literally a day or two just before they had to close to treating any patients outside of Texas. My doctor, a Sarcoma specialist, feels confident in starting a regimen of chemotherapy and we have begun that. Since this treatment is coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, I will remain here in Houston for the next few months until I finish chemotherapy. I am so grateful that both my wife, Margie, and daughter Naomi can be here with me. God has given me the best doctor, and I look forward to gradually seeing this disease mend.

The Bible assures us that at all times God is with us. He is our comforter; He is our healer. He is our physician; He is our provider. He knows better than we do. While some nights have been painful, my heart has been at rest that this is all God’s plan. I want to get better; I want to be well. I want to be in his will and honoring to Him.

As I listen to the news, I have heard many commentators and government leaders say that we are living in a time of war with an unseen enemy, this terrible pandemic that has swept through the globe. We are facing uncertain times, and I pray for all those in need.

When I think of war, I think of my days in Vietnam, where there was so much uncertainty and fear. When I was twenty-five years old, I was invited to speak there, hosted by my denomination, The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Two stories from Vietnam remind me that at all times God is with us. On one occasion, I was being driven from Dalat to Saigon by a missionary named George Irwin. En route, our car started to sputter and chug and died on us. Ironically, minutes before, George’s wife, Harriet, had said to all of us in the car, “We are about to go through the most dangerous part of the country.”

I wondered why on earth she was telling us this now. Couldn’t she have waited ‘til we had passed through it? Nevertheless, there we were, stuck on the highway in the most dangerous part of the country, trying to figure out what was wrong with our jeep.

Suddenly, a white car came speeding down the road. We tried to stop it for some help by waving our white handkerchiefs. The man driving the car just swerved it around us and increased his speed even more to avoid stopping. A few minutes went by, and George tried the ignition again and the car started, much to our relief.

As we drove a couple of miles down the road, we saw that the white car had been ambushed. The wounded and dying were on the side of the road, and the Viet Cong were running away in the distance. They had been waiting to ambush the next vehicle to come along, and that happened to be it. If our car had not broken down, it would have been us.

God has an appointed time for all of us. His protection and security is ours ‘til that moment comes when it’s “closing time.”

Another story from Vietnam probably stirs my confidence in God’s sovereignty and the power of his Word more than any other. When I was ministering there, one of my interpreters was Hien Pham, a young Christian. Sometime after I left, Vietnam fell and Hien was imprisoned. His jailers tried to indoctrinate him against the Christian faith and restricted him to Communist propaganda in French and Vietnamese.

The propaganda began to take its toll. “Maybe,” he thought, “I have been lied to. Maybe God does not exist.” So Hien determined that when he awoke the next day, he would not pray or think of his faith anymore.

The next morning, Hien was assigned to clean the prison latrines. There he found a scrap of refuse paper with apparent English script. He hurriedly grabbed it and washed it. Later that night, startled and trembling, he read these words from Romans 8: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. … For I am convinced that [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verses 28 and 38). Hien wept knowing there was not a more relevant passage for one on the verge of surrendering to a false doctrine.

Hien later escaped the country, again through the course of God’s amazing hand. He has since shared his testimony with many, confident that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

I have absolutely no doubt that God stops and orders our steps in his sovereign will and grace. The Jesus I know and love today I encountered at the age of seventeen on a bed of suicide. I came to him unsure about the future. I remain with him certain about my destiny.

When we are face to face with God, we will find out how many were the potential catastrophes from which He saved us. Every pain and wound is part of his sovereign plan for us. He is the ultimate guardian over every breakdown. He alone can be our protection. At all times, God is with us.

Ravi Zacharias is Founder and Chairman of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Alpharetta, GA. This article was published in the 28.3 edition of Just Thinking magazine. To view the magazine in its entirety, click here.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Godly Boundries

 

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body. — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource New Day, New You – by Joyce Meyer

The word stress was originally an engineering term used to refer to the amount of force a beam or other physical support could bear without collapsing.

In our time, the word has been expanded to refer not only to physical pressure, but also to mental and emotional tension. As human beings, God has created us to withstand a certain amount of stress. We have problems when we push ourselves beyond those limits. But like so many people, because I have things to do, many times I’ll just keep pushing myself even though it’s causing me physical damage.

Of course, when either Dave or I feel sickness coming on, we immediately pray for healing. But if we become sick as a result of running our body down by pushing it beyond the limits God has set for us, we need rest as well as prayer to restore our health. The boundaries He’s put in place are for our own good; when we stay within them, we’ll experience more peace in our body and soul.

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me where my boundaries and limits are, and how I can stay within them. Thank You for giving me the wisdom and strength I need to honor You in the way I take care of myself. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Self-Control Is Better

 

“It is better to be slow-tempered than famous; it is better to have self-control than to control an army” (Proverbs 16:32).

You and I know from experience that it is not easy to discipline our emotions, our passions or our self-will. In fact, apart from God’s help, it is an impossibility.

  • A lustful person who does not control his thoughts quenches and grieves the Spirit.
  • An overweight person, because he cannot control his appetite, quenches and grieves the Spirit.
  • A Christian who places undue emphasis on material possessions quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit.
  • A gossip who cannot control his tongue quenches and grieves the Spirit.
  • A husband, wife, or child who fails to live according to the commands of Ephesians chapter 5 quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit.
  • A student who fails to study adequately because of poor discipline quenches and grieves the Spirit.

Many pages would be required to list all the ways in which lack of self-control quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit.

The spirit, mind and body are the three aspects of our being over which we are told to practice self-control.

What is man’s spirit?

It is his immaterial being – man without his body, if you will. The Bible gives many characteristics of the spirit of man. It is that which communicates with the Spirit of God.

Man’s spirit is the center of emotions (1 Kings 21:5), the source of passions (Ezekiel 3:14) and the seat of volition or exercise of the will (Proverbs 16:32). Our spirit is subject to divine influence while housed in our mortal body (Deuteronomy 2:30 and Isaiah 19:14), and leaves the body at the time of physical death (Ecclesiastics 12:7 and James 2:26).

Bible Reading: Proverbs 15:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Drawing upon this enabling power of the Holy Spirit, I will practice the vital discipline of self-control.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Remind God of His Promises

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

I remember sitting in high school Algebra class staring at my textbook as if it were written in Mandarin Chinese.  Fortunately I had a patient teacher.  He issued the invitation and stuck to it: “If you cannot solve a problem, come to me and I will help you.”  I wore a trail between his desk and mine.  I would remind him, “Remember how you promised you would help?”  I still had the problem, mind you, but I entrusted the problem to one who knew how to solve it.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, “Put the Lord in remembrance of His promises, keep not silence” (Isaiah 62:6).  God invites you—yes, commands you—to remind him of his promises.  Find a promise that fits your problem, and build your prayer around it!  These prayers of faith touch the heart of God and miracles are set in motion!

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 – Family finds the dog that saved them from a tornado: Surprising someone with God’s compassion today

Eric Johnson was asleep on March 3 when Bella, the family’s six-year-old miniature Australian shepherd, woke him up. She was behaving erratically, giving him the sense that “something just didn’t feel right.”

He turned on the television to learn that a tornado was headed toward his town of Cookeville, Tennessee. He put his wife and their three children in a bathtub and was looking for Bella when the tornado struck their house. Their home was destroyed; Johnson was thrown into his backyard. He suffered a head injury and his wife had broken ribs.

Bella was thrown into the yard and survived, but then went missing. Their family searched for her for weeks. A church friend and dog tracker finally found her in an alley four miles from their home. Johnson, his brother-in-law, and their pastor helped retrieve her.

After fifty-four days of living on her own, Bella was reunited with her family.

Using drones to deliver flowers 

Help in hard times often comes from unexpected places.

Delivery robots are bringing goods and medical supplies to hospitals and others in need while helping support workers remain safe. Socially distanced people are using drones to deliver flowers, give virtual tours of quarantined cities, and even walk their dogs.

Turkey, which has become far more dictatorial and undemocratic in recent years, nonetheless has vowed solidarity with the United States during the pandemic. They recently sent 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 2,000 liters of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N95 masks, and 500 face shields to the US.

I’ve been doing radio interviews nearly daily across recent weeks. One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How can Christians make a difference in these days?” We all want to do what we can to help people and to honor our Lord.

In a secularized culture that condemns Christians for our supposed intolerance, how can we surprise others with his love and our compassion?

Major on the majors 

I’ve been reading in Acts lately and came upon this odd statement: “We set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead” (Acts 28:11). Why would Luke include this note?

Continue reading Denison Forum – Family finds the dog that saved them from a tornado: Surprising someone with God’s compassion today